Cold Stabilization of White Wine


If an unstabilized bottle of wine becomes cold (i.e.: chilled in a fridge before being served) it can trigger a crystallization reaction between the potassium and the tartaric acid which combine to form a deposit of crystals (potassium bitartrate, A.K.A.: "tartrates"). When this occurs the pH of the wine will shift. Depending on how extreme the shift is, the wine can end up tasting out of balance and it is impossible to correct unless you open the bottles, treat the wine and then re-bottle the entire lot. Best to address this before bottling to avoid this scenario.  

  • Cold stabilization is done by just exposing the wine to temperatures as close to freezing as possible (32F - 0C) for a minimum of two weeks (longer will not hurt the wine, it just will slow down the ageing process). A minimum of 40 F for two weeks is necessary for successful stabilization.

Note: if you happen to have a way to chill the wine to 32 F within a 12 hour period, you will become stable after only 4 days and do not need to wait for the two weeks it usually takes.  

  • Ageing on the lees can actually build tartrate stability into the wine so that a less extreme precipitation of tartrates is seen in wines which are lees aged as compared to those that are not. This is a colloidal stability that comes from the polysaccharides and mannoproteins extracted from the yeast during the lees ageing process.

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