Volatile Acidity


Your book is fantastic as have been your column in Wine and Vines. Thanks for agreeing to spend some time here to share more perspective and insights.

I wonder if you can talk a little bit about volatile acidity.

We’ve all had wines that were flawed by too much VA, but might one argue that we’ve have many a wine that had too little? I ask this because I’ve found that a couple wines I’ve had recently have VA’s in the .6-.7 range, but I also suspect that there is not necessarily a linear relationship…I’ve worked with winemakers that watch VA levels very closely and try to bottle when there is just the right amount.

Do you think that there is a right amount of VA in wines, say in Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, which are more delicate in structure and less able to “hide” it than Cab or Nebbiolo? Obviously too much is never a good thing, but there is something to be said about VA increasing complexity, until of course it doesn’t…

Can one assume that while MoX is working to achieve oxidative polymerization, and thus create finer colloids which integrate aromatics better, there is necessarily an increase levels of VA?


No question about it. Rule of thumb, unstructured whites are affected by VAs above 0.50 g/L. They get tinny and short. Reds can usually handle 0.70 with no problem, and big structured reds are often as high as 1.0 gm without recognition. Too little VA can leave the palate quite dull.

Micro-ox is properly done at a dose rate below the wine’s consumption rate, and no VA increase results. Since the fine structure increases the threshold, its effects on VA are generally positive.