Citric Acid

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

citric acid, a common plant acid, abundant in some fleshy fruits such as lemons, but rare in grapes. The grape is unusual among fruits in that its major acid is tartaric acid (and malic acid), rather than citric acid, whose concentration in the juice of most grape varieties is only about one-twentieth that of tartaric acid.

Citric acid is also one of the acids used in winemaking for the purposes of acidification. It is inexpensive but unsubtle and is used almost exclusively for inexpensive wines. It is always added after rather than before fermentation since it can be converted to acetic acid by the yeast. It is produced commercially by fermenting sucrose solutions; very small amounts are recovered from processing citrus fruits. It is also used for cleaning. In the eu it is not permitted for acidification but it can be used to prevent iron casse if blue fining is not possible. See also diacetyl.