Wine is a much-celebrated part of various cultures worldwide for thousands of years. Although the origins of winemaking predate written record, archeologists have discovered traces of wine dating back over 8,000 years. The process of winemaking remains largely unchanged, but technological advancements have allowed winemakers to refine their techniques in an effort to increase the quality and consistency of their product.
Many of the advancements associated with winemaking relate to chemistry. Analytical instrumentation developed for wine analysis allows vintners to gain more control over the winemaking process. From grape to bottle, many parameters can be measured that provide valuable information. Some important parameters include pH, titratable acidity, free and total sulphur dioxide, reducing sugars, and dissolved oxygen. pH is especially important because it affects multiple factors which influence overall wine quality. For example, pH affects a wine’s ability to inhibit microbial growth and prevent spoilage. In addition, pH impacts a process called malolactic fermentation which changes a wine’s perceived acidity.
One of the most important pH-sensitive parameters is sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide protects wine from spoiling by controlling bacterial growth. Winemakers must carefully add sulphur dioxide to provide sufficient bacterial control without contributing of favours associated with excess sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide in wine can exist in multiple chemical forms, each of which is pH dependent and vary in their ability to control bacteria. By measuring pH before adding sulphur dioxide, winemakers can calculate how much sulphur dioxide must be added and predict which chemical forms will be present.
pH adjustments are often utilised to alter a wine’s sensory attributes including the appearance, aroma and taste. Finished wine typically falls between pH 3 and 4. Wine on the lower end of this range (<3.6) is less prone to bacterial growth and oxidation. Depending on wine type and stylistic choices, the optimal pH of a particular wine may change. Generally, white wines should fall between pH 3.0 and 3.3; red wines normally range from 3.3 to 3.5. Wines with lower pH tend to taste crisper and tart compared to wines at higher pH, which tend to taste “flabby ” or “flat ”. However, an extremely low wine pH (<3.0) can taste too tart and astringent. The pH of fished wine can also affect its colour. For example, pigment compounds in the wine express different hues of colour depending on the pH. Although pH is an easily measurable parameter, many small wineries do not have space for instrumentation or find testing equipment intimidating.
For wineries that do not have a dedicated laboratory and need a portable solution that takes up little space, Hanna Instruments suggests the HI10482 HALO pH electrode with Clogging Prevention System (CPS) and Bluetooth technology. The HI10482 HALO pH electrode is designed for wine, featuring a movable sleeve junction for easy cleaning and a quicker response time when taking measurements. The sleeve junction prevents wine sediments from clogging the electrode, which can otherwise lead to drifting, inaccurate readings.
The HALO family of pH electrodes also features Bluetooth Smart technology, which enables the probe to interface wirelessly with the free Hanna Lab App. The Hanna Lab App turns any compatible IOS or Android device into a fully functioning pH meter. The app is available for free download and contains a demo mode, allowing users to explore all available features without a probe. With HALO electrode, winemakers are able to carry a pH meter wherever they go, and enjoy the built-in help and tutorial modes on the app, which guides them through calibration, measurement, and electrode care. Overall, the HI10482 HALO pH electrode enables the winery to monitor the pH levels of their wine all throughout the winemaking process and gives them increased confidence regarding the quality and consistency of wine!
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