When you are tasting wine there are a number of terms or components you can use to describe what you taste. Some of the more important terms are: balance, tannins, acidity, fruit flavors, structure and alcohol.
In this week’s blog I would like to have a discussion on a couple of these terms. Of the ones I listed, the two I want to focus on are: balance and acidity.
A Balanced Wine
A word we see repeatedly in wine tasting notes or hear when people are describing how a wine tastes is the term balance. This term is used in several ways such as a balanced palate, balanced flavors or balanced finish.
The best wines made have perfect balance. In this case, balance is describing the wine’s harmony of each of the wines components (the structure, fruit, alcohol, secondary flavors, acidity, sweetness and alcohol).
When none of these components is overpowering or sticking out in the forefront of the others too much, the wine is said to be in balance. Such a wine is highly coveted and offers a sense of elegance and completeness.
Perfectly balanced wines are hard to find. They tend to be the high scoring wines or the more expensive ones.
Acidity is a term used to describe the amount of acid in a wine. Acid is a chemical compound that makes wine taste tart like vinegar or citrus foods. Acidity can also be considered a wine’s “pucker” or tartness factor.
Most of the time when we say a wine is crisp, bright or fresh what we are really saying is the wine has great acidity. When we use terms such as crisp, bright or fresh we are usually talking about white wines. However, red wines can also be crisp, bright or fresh such as a New Zealand Zinfandel, which I believe often has higher acidity than other Zinfandels. Red wines generally have a higher color and more “tart” characteristics.
High acidity makes a wine taste too sugary or tart, it makes our cheeks pucker. Low acidity makes a wine taste flat. It is important for the winemaker to get the right level of acidity in the wine. Acidity levels are affected by a grape’s terroir which is further defined as a region, climate, soil and terrain. Acidity is also affected when the grapes are harvested. Sugar and acidity levels are part of the factors considered when deciding a grapes readiness to pick.
So the next time you taste a wine, pay attention to the balance of the wine as well as its acidity level. One of the fun aspects of wine drinking is to keep looking for that perfect well-balanced wine.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- September 15th – International Grenache Day
- November 7th – International Merlot Day
- November 12th – International Tempranillo Day
- November 15th – International Zinfandel Day
- December 16th – National Wine Club Day
- December 20th – National Sangria Day
- December 31st – National Champagne Day