Wine 101: What is Wine?

3. Acid
Acid is the part of wine that makes you smack your lips and leaves your mouth watering. It’s a vital component of deliciousness in wine. Acid is naturally occurring in all fruit, and we know from making lemonade that there is a subjectively ideal balance that can be achieved between sweetness and acidity. Even in a dry wine there are flavors that we can perceive as sweet (alcohol also can give an impression of sweetness), so having the right amount of acid in a wine is crucial.

Grapes are born with primarily hard Malic and Tartaric acids, though many whites and most reds go through a secondary, bacterial fermentation (as opposed to yeast-driven) that converts the acid of green apples (Malic acid) to the softer acid of fermented dairy products such as yogurt (lactic acid). As grapes ripen, sugars increase and acids tend to decrease, so some winemakers routinely add additional acid to their wines. The most common acids used in acidification are Tartaric acid, Malic acid and citric acid. Some wines are also de-acidified by adding specific salts that can cancel out tartaric acids.

Because of the differences in grapes and winemaking, some wines tend to be more acidic than others. Examples of higher acidic wines include many sparkling wines, Sauvignon Blanc, dry Riesling and Chianti.

Next: Tannins »

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