“Acid is as important to wine as to some music of the 60’s.” … Discuss.

Our next several posts — oh, oh, now we are committed — will cover some ideas to incorporate in your wine experiences in 2013.  First up, acidity.

Acid is truly vital to wine and here are some reasons why.

Acids in wines are chemical compounds giving rise to those wonderful sharp or sour tastes.  We think immediately of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and high altitude Malbec.

Tartaric and malic acid are commonly found in high concentration in wine, and so is acetic acid just as the grapes are ripening.  Overpowering acidity in a wine could be a sign that grapes were harvested when not fully ripened, or that you are particularly sensitive to those sharp tastes.  On the other hand, a wine with low acidity can be flat and dull, sometimes referred to as flabby…..like our tummies after a food binge.

Acids in red wines preserve the color.  Red wines which are unusually blue or brown generally have lower acidity.  Acids in all wines are also beneficial because they prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

A wine’s acidity is probably the most important factor in a great wine and food pairing. Good acidity in a wine allows it to be paired with rich foods, tart dishes, and more straight-forward, less complicated dishes.

Acidity in wine cuts rich foods, including those which are salty, oily, fatty, slightly spicy, or — our personal favorite in addition to the foregoing — those foods which are deep-fried. Think of some obvious pairings such as dry Chenin Blanc with oysters, Sauvignon Blanc with cheese, or a dry Riesling with crab.

Acidity harmonizes with tart dishes and sharper ingredients.  Think how often you wring your hands over which wine will work with the salad course, the fish dish with capers, the olive tapenade, or tomatoes and mozzarella.  Stop wringing and start pouring a dry Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc with your salad, a high altitude Malbec with the olive tapenade, and a cool climate Chardonnay with the fish and capers.