What the F*** is Acidity?
Acidity. You hear it slip from the mouth of every wine lover and geek around the world. It can sound annoying to hear it, but acidity is one of the most important taste characteristics in wine, and how you deal with acidic tastes will go a heck of a long way to finding out whether or not you will like a wine, before you even taste it! Whether giving or taking a recommendation, acidity is a key concept to understand. So what the fuck is acidity anyway?
In wine tasting, the term “acidity” refers to the fresh, tart and sour attributes of the wine which are evaluated in relation to how well the acidity balances out the sweetness and bitter components of the wine such as tannins. Three primary acids are found in wine grapes: tartaric, malic and citric acids. Thanks wikipedia!
Honestly we could not have come up with a better description than what you read right there. So how do you taste acidity and what does it mean when you drink wine? Well, the easiest way to come to grips with how much you like acidity in wine is to set yourself some mental benchmarks. Eat a slice of lemon, drink a glass of lemonade, have a coke with a lime wedge, and see how much you enjoy the sour tastes, or the puckering sensation you get when that citric acid hits your mouth. This will go a long way to helping you determine what kind of wine you like.
But what if I don't like that sour taste, stay away from acidic wines?
The truth is, every wine is acidic! The difference is in how that acid is balanced with the other flavors in the wine, notably the sugars. A big, bold red wine may seem more mellow with delicious red fruits, while a clean Riesling will have a more pronounced tart flavor straight off the bat. Meanwhile both may very well have the same pH balance.
And if I DO like that puckering sensation and a bit of a sour taste?
Well then it is really easy! While some may be reluctant to describe a wine as acidic (that just sounds nasty if we are being honest) they will describe the flavors as tart, clean, fresh, zesty, or crisp. Think limes, lemons, and green apples. You'd call them fresh, but you would not call them acidic.
So there you have it. A simple guide to one of the most important taste characteristics in any wine. Understanding your love for these tastes will go a long way in helping you discover new, exciting, and interesting wines from around the world. So grab some lemons and get to studying your acid levels!