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Malic acid

The chemical compound (also malic acid, hydroxysuccinic acid, malic acid) is one of the three most important organic acids in wine, along with tartaric acid and citric acid. It is mainly found in unripe apples, barberry berries, quinces, gooseberries, rowan berries and grapes. It got its name because it was first isolated and described from apple juice by the German pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786) in 1785 (apple juice is also used to produce cider, especially the French cider has a long tradition). In the still unripe grapes it has a high content of up to 20 g/l, in the wine the content is between 0.5 to 6 g/l. Parallel to the sugar storage during the ripening of the grapes, the must acids decrease. Malic acid is metabolised between 20 and 30 °C, i.e. it is burnt off during cell metabolism and converted into sugar, whereas the breakdown of tartaric acid only takes place at higher temperatures. This is why the remaining proportion of tartaric acid is always higher in ripe grapes. Tartaric acid is considered to be a soft, pleasant acid, whereas malic acid is considered to be a more aggressive-tasting acid that makes the wine taste edgy (hard).

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Egon Mark
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