ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

How do you acidify a wine? What is the process?

—John S., United States

Dear John,

Adjusting the acidity level in wine is a little controversial in some circles, and it’s even illegal in some regions. It’s often thought of as correcting grapes that were picked when really ripe—those higher sugars will lead to higher alcohols and lower acidities. Acidifying is a way for a winemaker to make wines that will be more balanced.

Adding acid won’t necessarily change the flavor of a wine, but it might affect the texture, and will probably amplify the fruit flavors of a wine. Some think of it as cheating—other winemakers like that they have the freedom to harvest when they want and worry about adjusting acidities later.

Before acidifying, a winemaker can run a test to identify the level of pH and acidity. Tartaric or malic acid can be added either before primary fermentation or afterwards. Both of these acids occur naturally in winemaking, but when they’re added, they’re in powder form, which makes them easier to measure and control. And winemakers don’t only adjust acidity by adding it—sometimes winemakers will lower the acidity through cold stabilization, or by adding potassium bicarbonate or potassium bitartrate.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories