Why Is Acidity Important in Wine?
There are plenty of characteristics that determine the quality and taste of wine. Wine acidity is one of the most important among them. Even wine experts pay close attention to a wine’s acid level and have developed many terms to describe the different acidity levels.
But why is wine acidity so important?
Wine's acidity comes from the grapes used to make it, and it functions as a preservative to keep the grapes fresh. Acidity also helps in the preservation of wine and prevents it from spoiling. However, there isn’t just one type of acid, but rather four types of acidity found in wine.
Why Is Acidity in Wine Important?
Acidity is an important component of wine that determines its quality. However, there always has to be a balance between acidity and other characteristics such as alcohol, sweetness, tannins, and aroma. When the acidity level in a wine is too low, it tastes dull, while too much acidity makes a wine taste tart because it coats other flavors.
A wine’s aging is determined by its acidity and also protects the wine from harmful bacteria that could cause the wine to spoil. Without acidity, wine aging wouldn’t be possible.
- Tartaric Acid: The most important acid in wine is tartaric acid. It’s commonly known as a fixed acid because it stabilizes flavors and also wine color.
- Malic Acid: Malic acid is the second most important type of acid because it keeps vines and grapes healthy, especially when they’re young. It can be perceivable in wine with green fruit flavors, particularly apple or pear notes. However, wine containing too much malic acid can undergo a process called malolactic fermentation.
- Lactic Acid: Produced primarily during the fermentation process, lactic acid occurs in both wine and food products like yogurt and sourdough. Winemakers will encourage the production of lactic acid by adding special bacteria to wine that starts malolactic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation breaks down lactic acid and gives the wine a buttery, creamy mouthfeel.
- Citric Acid: Wine typically has a small amount of citric acid, and winemakers might add some after fermentation to increase the total level of acidity.
What Is the Difference Between Acidity and Tannins in Wine?
Tannins and acidity are both natural components in grapes; however, they contribute very different characteristics. The wine's acidity adds needed sour notes and a little sharpness to the flavor profile. It's delicious, and it gives the wine a bright, crisp taste.
Tannins, on the other hand, produce a puckering, mouth-drying feeling that many wine enthusiasts prefer. They also give a wine mild bitter notes. They give wine its structure.
For an excellent wine, both acid and tannins are needed. They produce a well-rounded drinking experience by balancing each other, along with sugar and alcohol. They also allow the wine to develop while aging in oak barrels.
Pairing Food and Acidic Wines
Wines with a high acidity level match better with food than wines with an equal or lower acidity level. As a result, you have a lot of options for delicious pairings. Other factors such as wine body, sweetness, tannins, and aromas determine the best food and wine combination.
At Metro Wines, we focus on pairing the right type of wine with any special event or occasion. With a wide selection of wine at our Asheville shop, our friendly and knowledgeable sommeliers can help you find the perfect bottle.
If you’re interested in sampling a variety of wines, join us in our Tasting Room! For more information, visit our website.