A Tart Discussion
The revelation of ‘Acid Trials’ isn’t new to the wine world or to the Merriest of Pranksters, Ken Kesey. The question, is it a sour relationship or a mouth-watering seduction? Either opinion is just that, personal taste – our only conviction, we’ll never dose you with dull vibes. Join me on this leggy journey to uproot the truth, myths and mysteries of acidity.
I began my investigation talking to The Wine Foundry’s rockstar winemaker Patrick Saboe. When asked to explain the ‘feeling’ acidity gives wine, he responded, “Acid in wine causes the same salivary reaction as Sour Patch Kids or Granny Smith Apples.” “That’s Tartaric Acid, a chemical found in citrus, tamarind and notably in grapes. Wine is a ‘drink’, a juice. It’s crafted with the intention to provoke feeling. Like anything we consume, it activates our senses. We attempt to unlock every olfactory by layering compounds. Wine without perceptible acidity is one-dimensional, wine high in pH is flabby – by bringing down the pH just a bit establishes balance and helps create luscious, desirable, unforgettable wine.”
Compelled to dig deeper, I asked our enologist, Fernando Borgeaud if there was a way to calculate a perfectly balanced wine in the lab. He stated, “High acid wine is lively, open, succulent. I can predict a wines mouth-feel by looking at the numbers, (High pH like 3.8 versus higher acidity around 3.3 to 3.5pH). Yet, I can’t tell you my emotional reaction to a wine by simply testing levels. Tweaking the numbers to be “perfectly balanced” is impossible, each varietal, every vintage, individual making methods affects the wine. If you could test for emotional reactions, maybe then it’d be possible to balance a wine without tasting it.”
The feedback helped me actualize acidity – it’s a vital component in wine and winemaking. Interestingly, no one offered up the familiar Tasting Room employee reply – “Acid aids in age-ability.” A well-worn observation to those that know wine, but is it the only recognition acidity deserves? Grab a glass of vino, feel the acidity – define your own balance.