Understanding the Basics of pH Meters (WineMaker)

After some convenience items like a racking cane and a wine thief are added to your winemaking equipment arsenal, a pH meter should be your next investment. Getting an accurate read on where your wine’s pH lands on the spectrum has huge implications not only for flavor and balance but more importantly its microbial stability and impact on sulfite additions.

It is probably the single most important number you can obtain while making wine.

While the exact science of how a pH meter works is not all that important, a basic explanation is that the probe you submerge in your solution (wine) is reading the level of hydrogen ions. Because of the chemistry involved—pH meters are temperature-sensitive and readings can change depending on the temperature of your solution.

pH meters must be calibrated before each use with two solutions designed to specifically read pH at a certain level. These are generally referred to as calibration reagents or buffers and the two that winemakers want to always have on hand are one at pH 4.01 and the other at pH 7. These reagents do need to be replaced periodically, so be wary of the expiration date. Also, be sure to secure the caps back on when finished with each use since evaporation will affect the reagents’ ability to properly calibrate your meter.

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