Wine Tasting and Acidity Levels

Wine Tasting and Acidity Levels

You and your significant other decide to book a romantic weekend at wine tasting getaway.  It is your first wine tasting experience. Gianna and Valeria guide through the vineyards encouraging you to taste the grapes.  They are ripe juicy and warm from the sun.  The fields are lush and feature a luxury guesthouse with guest rooms and a pool area.  You are led into the wine tasting area.  Your host and bartender Michael explains that it used to contain stables and a bar.  The table is set with white tablecloths, beautiful glasses and trays of mouthwatering salami and cheese with olives.  You will be tasting 5 wines.  You have studied up a little on what to do on the internet, so you won’t be completely at a loss.  You swirl.  The wine releases its aroma and you take a deep sniff.  You sip.  You hold the wine in your mouth allowing it to coat your entire palate.  You notice that there is a slight tanginess to it, causing your mouth to pucker slightly.  What is that?

Acidity is one of the fundamental traits of wine, which gives it its tartness and slight bitterness. All wines are slightly acidic and range from about a 2.5 to a 4.5 on the pH spectrum, with 7 being neutral.  The acids most commonly found in wine are tartaric acid, malic acid, and citric acid

Sweetness And Acidity
The sweetness in wine is usually in indirect proportion to its sensation of acidity. That is, sweetness neutralizes the tartness of wine. Wine tasters compare the effect to blending raw lemon to Coca-cola.  The soda reduces the intensity of the lemon.

Balancing Acidity Of  Wine With Food
When pairing wine with food, you should always analyze which traits in the wine are dominant and which tastes will compliment, or balance these traits best.  Should you go for sweet or sour, dry or salty.  When it comes to a wine with a strong acidity, you’ll want to go for sweet, salty and fatty foods.  (Not very nutritional)  The chef recommends champagne and French fries.  (How decadent!)

Why Is Acidity In Wine Important
Although we are told to avoid eating too many acidic foods, acidity is essential to the quality of the wine. The four traits of wine are acidity, tannin, alcohol, and sweetness.  A sign of a great wine is a proper balance of these traits.  The acidity also contributes to the preservation of the wine, which is why ice wines, which have a high acidity level can age for decades.

Climate And Wine
When grapes ripen the acidity lowers and the sweetness increases.  The best winemakers wait for the moment when the grape is sweet, but still acid enough to make a good wine.  Wines with high acidity usually come from regions with short grown seasons and cooler nighttime temperature.  This shortens the ripening (sweetening) process and makes for a slightly more acidic taste.

Types Of Acid
Note, also that the type of acid in wine can affect its sourness.  If a wine is oak aged, the malic acid will convert to lactic acid making for a smoother, less tart wine.  This is why unoaked Chardonnay will have a different taste than Oaked Chardonnay.

You bring the glass to your lips.  Everyone looks at you awaiting your comment.  “Hmm,” you say with validation, “a bit tangy, but surprisingly smooth.”  Everyone nods in approval,  You did well.

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