Wine Tip #5: Don't use Acid Blend in Grape Based Wines!

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

What is acid blend? Acid blend contains a mixture of Tartaric, Malic, and Citric acid. The ratios of the acids can vary wildly between acid blend manufactures with some in the 40-40-20 Tartaric-Malic-Citric range, while others are in the 10-50-40 (LD Carlson). In a grape, around 50-60% of the acid is tartaric, 30-40% is malic, and less than 10% is citric. Rather than add acid blend, normally you would make grape wine adjustments with Tartaric acid. On a very rare occasion you can add malic acid or citric acid to achieve certain goals that we will cover in this article.

What acid to use in wine

Tartaric Acid

Tartaric acid plays nice with a fermentation and does create any off flavors or smells. Generally, this is the acid that you will want to add when making adjustments to the must. If potassium is present, some tartaric acid will become insoluble and fall out as potassium bitartrate (Cream of Tartar). This is not a bad thing, but requires you to add a bit more than you think in certain musts. I generally like to adjust my pH down to 3.6 or lower before fermentation with a red wine (3.0-3.2 with a white wine). If potassium bitartate falls out above pH 3.6, the pH will rise dramatically. If it falls out at 3.6, very little change should occur. Below 3.6, the pH will drop slightly. I can't fully wrap my head around the chemistry of this, but I have seen it in practice many times. Clark Smith mentions this in his book Postmodern Winemaking, and that guy knows his stuff...