Ever gone to a wine tasting or read the label on a bottle and questioned what they meant by acidity? When you look at it from a distance, nobody would want acidity in their wine, right? Well actually, “acids” are among the best ways to enhance or refine flavor—whether in a bottle of wine or the food on your plate.
The acidic components in wine can get complex, but there’s a simple way to think about it. Our mouths react instinctively to the acidity levels in a bottle of wine. For example, if you hold your mouth open right after you take a sip and swallow and, consequently, begin salivating, then your mouth is reacting to the acid. Therefore, the more saliva you produce, the more acid there is within the wine. So, apart from that, how does a wine’s acidity affect its flavor? Below, we’ll delve into what you need to know about the role acid plays in wine—read on!
The pH Scale
Acids are one of four fundamental aspects in wine, along with tannin, sweetness, and alcohol. When you get a tart and sour wine, that comes from the acidic spectrum of the wine. That acidic nature comes from where wine lies on the pH scale. Fundamentally speaking, all the wine we drink lies on the “acidic” side of the pH spectrum (about 2.5 to 4.5 pH).
Think about it in terms of lemons. The more acidic and sour the lemon, the more it makes your mouth water and pucker. The same goes for wine—and of this makes you want to drink more.
How Does It Taste in Your Wine?
So, when it comes to how a wine’s acidity affects its flavor, you have to think about mouthfeel. A wine with a higher acidity (lower pH number) will taste crisper and tarter on your palate. A wine with a lower acidity will taste richer and rounder on your palate.
As for older wines, you’ll want to grab one with a higher acidity. It provides the backbone needed for long-term aging, since oxidation and other unstable components will have less of an impact. When a wine has less acidity, then it’s more prone to contamination. Winemakers will add in more sulfites to protect the wine from things like oxidation, but they have to think about balance. Too much sulfur can lead to flavors similar to rotten eggs and overcooked cabbage.
So, what does it taste like in your wine? As we stated, you’ll get that crisper taste and a high acidity that is paired with sweetness; this means that you might not notice that mouth-puckering feel. The next time you sip on wine, pay attention to the puckering and salivation afterward. The more you pay attention to it, the sooner you’ll recognize acidity in your wine.
Need a variety of bottles to broaden up your wine-tasting world? Turn to Wines ‘Til Sold Out for different styles of wine. With these, you’ll recognize the role acidity plays in various wine bottles. Check out our value wines to see what you can experience. Shop now!