Don’t Fear Acidity, Embrace It
Acidity in Wine and Why it’s Important
I tend to think of wine as people. I know it sounds a little hokey, but just stay with me for a short read. If you strip us all down (quite literally) and remove our personality, we are all comprised of the same components. Bones, organs and muscles, to name a few, are all components that create us equal. If you strip a wine of all things that add character or personality to the sip that is in your glass, it’s basically comprised of the same structural components: alcohol, sugar, tannins and acid. Acidity is the backbone of a wine, especially in a white wine. A white wine without acidity, just like us without a skeleton, has no structure. Acidity is absolutely vital to a wine. It brings life and gives it strength and longevity. It lifts flavours, enhances aromatics and ultimately creates balance in a wine.
Acidity Tasting Terms
Acidity is best described as the sour sensation felt when you sip a wine. It’s normally felt at the sides of the tongue in an electric pulse or zing. Acidity can even leave your mouth feeling a little fuzzy or dry. It is invigorating and easy to perceive on the palate probably because it is such an assertive sensory perception. But the language that wine tasters use to describe the sensation can be much trickier to decipher.
Wines with too little acidity will seem lifeless, almost boring; they won’t invite you in for another sip. They’re often described as “flabby,” “flat” or even “cloying.” On the other hand, if there is too much acidity, the wine will make your mouth pucker and your face quiver just as a baby’s would after tasting a lemon for the first time. Wines with too much pronounced acidity can be described as “tart,” “sour,” “angular” or even “green.” You’ll know the acidity is just right when the wine is described with words such as “crisp,” “refreshing,” “bright” or even “racy.” These terms indicate balanced acidity, and each sip will satisfy and leave you wanting more.
Acidity and Nova Scotia
Grape variety plays an important role in determining the amount of acidity in a wine. Different varieties will ripen to varying acid types and levels. The place or climate in which the grape is grown also influences the acidity level in the fruit. Even with the same grape variety, the fruit ripens less and more slowly retains acidity in a cooler climate than in a warmer one. In Nova Scotia we are blessed with a cool maritime climate. This climate not only determines the types of grape varieties that we are able to grow but also how they ripen. We are no stranger to acidity here. This is what defines us as a wine region and gives a sense of place to all of our wines. For this we have our beautiful climate, grapes and ripening conditions to thank.
Acidity and Food
Acidity is absolutely essential in successful food and wine pairings. That is why our Nova Scotia wines, whether white, red, sparkling or sweet, are all so incredibly food friendly. Wines with higher perceived acidity are the perfect choice as an aperitif. The acidity cleanses the palate and erases all of the flavours that it has been bombarded with throughout the day, leaving you refreshed and salivating for the meal to come. Salty foods are another brilliant choice to pair with acidic wines. Salt helps neutralize acids and bring the flavours of the wine and food alive. Also try balancing acids in wine with equal amounts of acids in the overall dish. Or try contrasting foods high in fat with the cleansing effect of an acidic wine.
Acidity in wine is essential. It delights the senses and partners perfectly with food. It is what defines Nova Scotia wines and makes them stand out on the national and international stage. It’s time to embrace acidity, not fear it!