When To Measure The pH Of A Wine

Testing pH of a wine.I got some pH test strips but do not know what the optimal pH of wine is.  I was also wondering if pH can be adjusted at anytime during wine making process?
Dear Joe,
Thank you for the great questions about the pH of a wine. pH is an integral part of any wine and needs to be correct for the wine to taste balanced. The pH also needs to be in a reasonable range for the wine to be stable. If the wine’s acidity is to low it can become more susceptible to spoilage and oxidation.
Fortunately, if you make your wines using box wine kits, the pH has already been taken care of for you. Measuring the pH is not necessary when making wine with these kits. You also do not need to measure the pH of your wine if you are making a wine from a trusted wine recipe.
Having said this, there are times when measuring the pH is needed… If you don’t have a wine recipe for the fruit at hand, or if the fruit tastes unusually sharp or tart tasting, you may want to measure the pH and make any necessary acid adjustments to the wine must. Anytime you are making wine from fresh wine grapes or have a wine must made up of 100% fruit juice such as apple wine, this is when to measure the pH of the wine.
In these situations you will want to take the pH measurement before you begin the fermentation begins. If the fermentation has already started, CO2 gas will throw off the pH reading. A second time that a wine can be tested is right before bottling, however the wine should be degassed first. For this, I would suggest using a degassing paddle. It attaches to a hand-drill. This will allow you to remove all the CO2 gas left-over from the fermentation so that you can accurately measure the pH of the wine.Shop pH Test Stips
When measuring the pH of a wine, you are generally looking for a reading between 3.4 and 3.8. The scale runs backwards, so a reading of 3.0 is more acidic than a reading of 4.0. To make any acid adjustments you will either dilute the wine must with sugar water or you will add acid blend.
The big take-away here is: before fermentation and before bottling is when to measure the pH of a wine. And, this is only need if you are making wine from fresh fruit.
Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

19 thoughts on “When To Measure The pH Of A Wine

  1. What can I do to lift my ph of an ail I want to make plz help if u can thx.

    • Why do you want to lift the pH? Is it to low & therefore very acidic and probably not in balance?Do you have a pail of juice or must or wine?

  2. I have recently acquired several 5 gallon carboys and 2 oak barrels from an estate sale. The barrels and some of the carboys are filled with I believe, a second fermentation of Concord grape wine. The dates read 2013, so they have been setting for 2 years. What is the best way to determine the overall quality of the contents (wine)?
    Thank you for your time.

    • Rebecca, what we would recommend doing is taking a sample of the wine to a local winery for their opinion on the quality of the wine.

  3. Ed, I started a wild chokecherry wine 6 days ago 10 # of chokecherries, 2# of honey and 2Qts of pure dark cherry juice and 10# of sugar added water to make 5 gallons started with a reading of 1150 it has been fermenting for 6 days at a temp of 70-78 and the reading is now 1050 is this really slow ? At what point should I start 2nd fermentation. I’m a big fan of yours and appreciate all of the good information, Jerry

  4. WOW, Jerry it’s a wonder you got such a good fermentation, 100 points in 6 days is good. I say it’s a wonder because too much sugar initially can inhibit fermentation. I regularly make high alcohol wines but I never start over 1.110 osg and gradually add sugar when the must nears 1.000 taking readings before and after these additions and writing them in the wine log.
    All that said, you still have a way to go 1.050 is way too sweet. The problem I see is your yeast will most likely hit it’s alcohol tolerance and you will end up with a very sweet wine! (you didn’t mention which strain you used). An initial starting gravity of 1.150 would give an alcohol potential of 19.9%! I know of no WINE yeast that has an alcohol tolerance that high.
    If it gets stuck and you have an overly sweet wine, I see two options 1. Use the Pearson square to figure how much Vodka or Grain Alcohol to add to bring it up to 21% to make a Port style wine or 2. (Which I’m not sure will even work) is to add a ‘turbo yeast’ asap

    • “Premier Cuvée” from 5 Star and “EC-1118” from Lalvin will both get pretty close. They can tolerate 18%. I especially like the EC-1118 because it does its thing very quickly and I’ve never had the fermentation get stuck even with a starting SP of 1.125 I don’t normally start that high though. That batch was a miscalculation on my part lol.

      • I regularly start from juice concentrates at 1.140, intentionally, and use Premiere Cuvee with great success ! A grape/apple mix has become our favorite! Most times my ending SG will be around .990-.995. As I am not really a wine lover, this gives a great fermented fruit drink, near 20% alcohol, that when drank on ice, tastes really good ! Beware tho, more than 2 glasses can cause unwanted PROBLEMS, lol.

  5. I have an elderberry wine that I am holding with an airlock on a 6 gal. jug. The specific gravity is 995. however it,continues to expel C0-2. it has been 3 months now. I have racked it twice. I get very little sediment each time .When will it be safe to add sorbate and final clearing agents. You mentioned degassing. Is this something that will help?
    Also I need a real good Chardonnay kit wine, Do you have a recommendation for me?
    Thanks for your help.

  6. How does one know when wine is properly degassed? How do you tell when to stop?

      • Degassing is just vigorously stirring or even shaking the wine until it stops fizzing like a shaken soda. I used a hand drill and a paint mixer to degas mine. It only take a couple of minutes to get it done.

  7. Im looking in your recipes for a recipe I saw last spring I cant find it (Strawberry-Banana-blackberry)I had Froze the strawberries and blackberries to make it but now cant locate your recipe?

  8. Pls how do I use glycerine in my wine,i mean when and how do I apply it in my wine making process

    • Bamidele, glycerine is used after the fermentation is complete, the wine is clear and ready to bottle to add more body to the wine.

  9. What kind of gaget should I get to obtain the pH(acidity) of the fruit (grapes, blackberry,plum) that I pick to make a dry wine.i would use this device as an aid to pick the fruit at the correct ripeness.

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