Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Let's Talk About Acid

Whenever I get to the part of a wine tasting where we need to look at the acidity levels I always start to imagine some cheesy movie out of the 1970's about the party culture- and then I giggle.  My tour participants must think Im nuts.  It's a fair assessment.  

After the giggles though- acidity in wine is a big deal.  How much or little acidity is a big influence on what will pair best with the wine.  Earlier we talked about the body of wine, and how that must match closely with the body of your food, here we follow the same principle- the acidity of your food and your wine must be close.  

How do you tell how much acid is in your wine?  This is one of the more challenging items to get right.  However, at its base, acid will present in wine as saliva congregating under your tongue.  So if you have a high acid wine you'll feel saliva pool under your tongue.  A lower acidity wine and you won't feel too much.  

We measure this amount by what we call "The Drip Test".  Sounds pretty awesome right?  It's actually insanely disgusting.  Basically the idea is that if your wine has a high acidity level then your mouth will continue to "water" after you've swallowed your sip - so much so that if you tip your head forward and open your mouth you may drool.  Yup- Drip Test.  My fellow classmates and I finally called enough on that one and learned to just pay careful attention to the area under our tongues.  Generally speaking if you feel that you need to swallow a second (or a third) time to clear the saliva from that area before talking- it's a high acid wine.  

Higher acidity wines are largely found in cooler climates.  Acid bakes out of grapes as they mature on the vines so the warmer the grapes grow in, the less acidity will be present in your wine.

So when you find yourself face to face with a highly acidic wine, don't pair it with your favorite cup of New England Clam Chowder.  Your mouth won't be able to adjust quickly enough and the intricate flavors of the chowder will be lost.  Instead- pair it with a food that has its own punch of acidity- lemon sauces, tomato sauces, vinaigrettes.  

Do your best to match acidity levels- wine to food and you'll find a pleasurable experience.  But please, don't feel the need to perform The Drip Test at your next dinner party- or if you do please leave me out of it ;-)  

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