Tasting Exercise: Acidity

I read a wonderful article in Food and Wine Magazine last Autumn about different tasting procedures you can go through to help yourself understand the different properties of wine tasting.  I wanted to save these exercises and the wines used to go through them with friends in the future.  I think this would make a fun little educational wine gathering!

Acidity

Natural acids, including tartaric and malic, cause the acidity in wine.  The acids can derive from the actual grapes themselves or the acids added during the wine making process.  The acidity in grapes varies greatly, depending on many different factors including the grape variety, sun exposure, climate and soil in the vineyard.  Grapes grown in cooler climates tend to have higher acidity.

While enjoying wine, you will feel the effects of acidity mostly on the sides of your tongue.  Overly acidic wines will cause an almost stinging sensation or sour taste in the mouth.  I pay attention to how much saliva my mouth produces after tasting a wine.  The more saliva produced, the more acidity in the wine.

Food Pairing

When enjoying foods high in fat, like alfredo sauce, the fat typically coats the palate and stifles the flavor of subsequent bites.  In these situations, the acid in the wine cuts through the fat lingering on the palate.  This effectively prepares your mouth to be able to fully indulge in the next delectable bite.

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Tasting Exercise

Equipment: Five 4 ounce glasses of water, one orange, one grapefruit, one lemon, one lime

Set aside the first glass of water.  Squeeze the juice of 1/4 orange into the second glass.  Squeeze the juice of 1/4 grapefruit into the third glass. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon into the fourth glass.  Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime into the fifth glass.

Taste in that order, starting with a sip of plain water, to experience increasing levels of acidity. Experiment by adding more juice to each glass to see how the acidity increases.  Notice the point at which the juice becomes too sour for you.

Wines

The following wines will help illustrate the concept of acidity.  A type of wine is listed, followed by a specific vintage and brand that would work well. Each are listed in order from least to most acidic.

* Marsanne (2011 Qupe)

* Sauvignon Blanc (2011 Brander Santa Ynez Valley)

* Muscadet (2011 Michel Delhommeau Cuvee St. Vincent)

The wines in parenthesis were not necessarily the wines I found and used when first doing this experiment. They are wines suggested in Food and Wine Magazine. I used the ones I could find locally and if I could not find the specific brand they recommended or didn’t have the budget for the one they recommended, I used one that fit their category. I did these exercises before starting this blog so I did not record each brand and vintage I used.

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