In my quest to find out what you really want to know, I’ve started checking search analytics. It’s intriguing to see that the most common searches are concerned with acid in wine. The search terms are things like: less acidic white wine, red wine with low acidity, low acid wine list
Wine is high in acid
The first thing to know is that wine is a tart beverage. Unless you enjoy eating fresh lemons, wine is more acidic than just about any food you can think of. That’s why it’s so easy to pair with food. The acidity is cleansing.
On the pH scale, zero is tart (battery acid), seven is neutral (water) and 14 is alkaline (lye, Drano). Wine normally falls somewhere in the threes. For cool-climate wine it may even dip down into the high twos – very, very tart!
The influence of climate
That said, white wines tend to be higher in acid than reds, from 3.0 – 3.5 where reds are usually between 3.3 and 3.8 (I know this is confusing: as the acid goes up, the pH goes down.) It depends upon the variety and the climate. Warm climates produce soft acidity and cool, the opposite. Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are naturally tart and Chardonnay changes with the environment: warm climate Chards, like most of California or Australia, tend to be soft and cool-climate examples, like Chablis or white Burgundy, are tart.
So, for low acid wines, in general, seek out warm climate examples: As we said, most of California and Australia, southern Italy, Argentina, eastern Washington… and keep in mind that the whites are higher than the reds. Continue reading
And, the winner is… “The older the better.” This myth crops up over and over, all the time, and it’s not a good thing because for the vast majority of wines made, world wide, the opposite is true.
When in doubt, down the hatch!
Forget about aging value wines. I know someone is going to write me back citing their favorite value red that’s always nicer with age, but let’s go with the big picture here. Generally speaking, these wines are made for immediate consumption and won’t hold up for more that two to four years. Especially whites and rosé wines. In most cases, the younger the better.
This means, when you see white wine in the sale bin, it may not be such a bargain. Not if you end up dumping it down the drain instead of drinking it.
And, in the world of fine wine, there are still more wines that don’t improve with age than those that do.
So, which wines to age? Continue reading
Finally!! I saved the best for last…
We’ve taken a look, swirled, slurped, learned about why it’s great to use a wine aroma wheel to get your sensory wheels turning. I should have mentioned that Vinography has a similar tool you can download.
And now your reward. Let’s taste!
If this is your first sip of the day it may be a bit of a shock. It’s the rare wine that pairs well with Colgate 😉 So, take a second sip, using the slurping technique, and think about how the wine tastes and feels.
Does it taste good?
That’s the most important thing of all!
Flavor: What’s your overall impression? Do the flavors echo the aroma or are they different (the wine maker usually hopes for some kind of connection). Can you pick out any flavors in particular? Fruity, floral and vegetative flavors are usually grape derived. Coffee, coconut, grilled bread, vanilla and butter are just a few examples of barrel-derived flavors.
Mouthfeel: Does the wine seem to coat your palate or refresh it (cream vs. lemonade) Is it soft or astringent? Continue reading
Question from Bob V: You know how the back label says “fragrance of blueberries” or “hints of vanilla”? Do they add that stuff or ?
Reply: Hi, Bob! Thanks for writing. If they added blueberries or vanilla the label would have to say “Bluebery-flavored Zinfandel” or “Vanilla-flavored Chardonnay”. Regulation-wise, wine is 100% grape juice with a kick!
So, how does that stuff get in there?
Sometimes it’s just that the fragrance or flavor of the wine reminds us of tobacco or spice. It’s just the best language we have to put across our impressions. Many of the characteristics, especially those derived of fermentation and aging, are not well understood.
And, sometimes we think we know the source of specific characteristics. For instance when your Sauvignon Blanc smells like green bell pepper Continue reading
Wine is such a deliciously confusing beverage. Maybe you’re not sure what we mean by “dry” vs. “sweet.” Are you wondering which wine goes the best with your favorite curry? Is rosé a red wine or a white? We’ll have some fun things, too, like really good, do-able recipes with wine pairings, of course! And, why not a little wine trivia from time to time?
So, here’s our first question from an A Million Cooks listener:
Question: Hi! I’ve always preferred white wine, but I’d like to start shifting into reds. What’s a good place to start?
Reply: Hopefully this reply will open up a whole, new and delicious world of wine! If you’re accustomed to drinking California or New-world wines, I’d say reach for the Pinot Noir! The French Pinot Noir is called red Burgundy.
Because it’s a thin-skinned grape the wine’s not too dark, heavy, bitter or tannic – a perfect transitional red! If you’re not familiar with tannin, many people who don’t like red wine eventually discover that they don’t like tannin. It’s the thing that dries out your mouth and makes your teeth feel furry. Continue reading