Ask Wine Wizard

Dealing With Volatile Acidity


Linda Rudolph — via email asks,

We just noticed our first racking starting to taste a little vinegary. is there any way to correct, save, or reverse it?

Not knowing any more information than you give above, it’s tough to make specific recommendations so I’ll start with the general ones. Whenever you suspect VA (volatile acidity, or the production of vinegar) in your wine, make sure you’re protecting against the most obvious enemies of newly-aging wine: Oxygen and spoilage microbes. The first thing to make sure you’ve done is to keep your wine completely topped up, i.e. your containers completely full to exclude oxygen and to minimize the area in which aerophilic and microaerophilic (oxygen-loving) organisms can grow. The next thing you need to do is to make sure that your wine is being stored with enough added sulfur dioxide, or SO2. Sulfur dioxide is a compound that’s been used as an antioxidant for thousands of years and these days is usually added to wine in the form of potassium metabisulfite powder (often abbreviated as KMBS) or tablets. I like to store my wines with Free SO2’s between 28-30 ppm (mg/L). A little quickie test I sometimes run when I suspect I have a VA or aldehyde problem
Response by Alison Crowe.