Topping Analysis

January 17, 2012

It looks like we’re finally going to get some rain on Thursday, which means we’ll have to stop pruning for awhile and bring things back inside.

Luckily, it’s time to top our barrels again, so there’s a need for some indoor labor anyhow. Topping is a good opportunity to examine the wine, both for how its’ sensory characteristics are developing and to run analysis on it. Topping analysis is generally done to ensure that the wine is not spoiling. Wine is reasonably stable because it is acidic and contains alcohol, but there are still some bugs that can grow in it, given the opportunity.

The primary analysis we do to monitor spoilage is called VA, or Volatile Acidity. There are a number of different types of acid in wine that are considered volatile, but the one we are primarily concerned with is acetic acid, also known as vinegar.

Our lab is very small, so things get a little chaotic when we run analysis. The glass chamber with boiling water and wine in it on the right side of the picture is a Cash Still, it is the device we use to measure Volatile Acidity.

Acetic acid is present in all wines to some degree, but at too high a concentration it has an unpleasant aroma, and a sudden increase in acetic acid is a sure sign of spoilage in the wine, which can lead to all kinds of problems. We check the concentration of acetic acid regularly in every lot of wine to make sure that the wines are still sound and do not require any special treatment. Happily enough, everything checked out as usual, so we will proceed with normal topping later this week.

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main  site, please click here.

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