Have you ever felt the citrusy sourness in white wines? Whether you’ve noticed or not, it’s the acidity working in your mouth, and it can be found in most of the wines that you drink.
Acidity plays an important role in wine, but before we get to that, let’s first visit its sensation.
Take a walk down memory lane: It’s a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon and you’re at the local coffee shop downing that lime juice from the drinks stall. Do you remember that sour feeling in your mouth? In many cases, the lime juice would have left a ‘popping’ sensation on your tongue. This is exactly the sensation of acidity - you feel a sour twist in your mouth, especially near the jawbones.
Acidity is one of the key components of wine. Its role is largely to bring some liveliness and excitement to the wine. How pronounced the wine’s acidity feels on your palate depends on its balance relative to the other components.
If the acidity overwhelms the other components (such as sweetness, alcohol and tannins), you’ll get a tart or very sour sensation in your mouth. If the acidity is understated, then the wine feels dull and flat. When the balance is hit correctly, the right amount of acidity will make the wine dance on your palate.
One factor that affects the level of acidity in wines is the type of grapes that’s used. White grapes tend to be more acidic compared to red grapes, and this fact is brought forward to the wine itself. It is why white wines tend to be more acidic than their red counterparts. Among white grapes, the level of acidity varies as well. The sauvignon blanc varietal tends to be more acidic than chardonnay grapes. Likewise, for red grapes, the pinot noir grape is usually more acidic compared to the merlot grape!
Keep this in mind, take note of your wine’s acidity the next time you take a sip!
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