Volatile Acidity in a wine

Hi everyone,

Could someone please say how to decipher  VA in a wine while blind tasting. Does it only exist in tannic reds or those that had good oak treatment/possible warm climate viticulture.

Thank you.


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  • Volatile acidity is typically caused by bacteria in the wine producing acetic acid. A higher pH (lower acid) wine is more susceptible to VA. Topping barrels with clean wine (with clean equipment) is an important preventative measure. Proper SO2 usage and lower temperatures will also help keep the microbes at bay.

    The smell of vinegar, pickle juice, nail polish remover, or glue are typical descriptors. Some wines are classic for a degree of VA (Barolo, Amarone, Brunello), but people's threshold for how much is appropriate will range. Some famous critics love a bit of VA. Personally, I can accept a little bit in a Barolo, but I have no tolerance for it in Champagne (common in oxidative styles) or Pinot Noir.