What is the ideal "total acidity" for Cabernet Sauvignon?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is the ideal "total acidity" for Cabernet Sauvignon?

—Marie, Napa, Calif.

Dear Marie,

Spoiler alert: There is no “ideal” total acidity (TA) for Cabernet Sauvignon.

But first let me explain what "total acidity" is. TA is a way to measure the concentration of acidity by volume in a wine. It’s often discussed in relation to the pH, or the measure of relative acidity versus the relative alkalinity. Winemakers will look at pH as a way to measure ripeness in relation to acidity, which can help indicate how intense the acidity will come across. The higher the pH, the lower the acidity (and riper a wine will taste) and the lower the pH, the higher acidity (and more tart a wine will taste).

Most table wines have a TA of about 0.6 to 0.7 percent. The relationship between pH and TA only tells one part of the story—there are other factors like tannins, alcohol and sweetness to measure. And while these measurements also tell you part of the story, they cannot tell you how a wine will taste, or if you’ll like it.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Winemaking Techniques Explained

More In Dr. Vinny

Why are wines from volcanic soils so good?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why certain soil types encourage desirable …

Aug 21, 2019

Why do we pair white wine with fish and red wine with red meat?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers some tips on making a food and wine match sing.

Aug 19, 2019

How can I preserve an intentionally wine-stained shirt?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the pros and cons of using red wine as a fabric …

Aug 16, 2019

What exactly does it mean that a wine can express "terroir"? Is it a smell? A taste?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the elusive concept and expression of terroir.

Aug 14, 2019

Are some wines better-suited to being canned than others?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains which wine styles have been most successful in …

Aug 9, 2019

How can a wine taste like fruits other than grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how all those complex flavors and aromas get …

Aug 7, 2019




Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search