Acidity in Wine
The Role of Acidity in Wine
Acidity give wines a tart and crisp taste; while minerals, sugar and alcohols balance out the acidity. Thus, controlling acidity is crucial to great wine. There are several ways in which winemakers regulate the acidity in a wine, both in grape growing and in winemaking.
Winemakers Influence on Acidity
The human aspect of acid in wine lies in the hands of the winemakers. They use knowledge of chemistry and their palate to decide what course of action would be best for that particular wine. Through the winemakers influence on acidity, they can change total acidity, or just a particular acid to adjust the taste and balance of a particular wine.
Most of the acid you taste in wine is from the acid in grapes. The acids in grapes, even at maturity, are not in the same concentrations as they are in must and wine. The main process that affects this is alcoholic fermentation.
Role of Acidity in Wine Taste & Color
Acidity and Taste: Taken as a group, the acids in wine are just as important as the alcohol. Acids have a profound impact on sense perception, particularly taste. They not only have a “refreshing taste,” but also play an integral role in reducing the perception of “sweetness.”
Acidity and Color: The acidity of a wine is critical in maintaining the color in red wines. As acidity decreases, the anthocyanins lose their color and may even turn blue. In addition, oxidation is inversely related to acidity. The less acidic, the higher the degree of oxidation a wine will undergo.
Acidity and Microbial Stability: In addition to these important roles, high acidity has anti-microbial benefits. Since most bacteria cannot grow in acidic conditions, maintaining acidity is an important defense strategy that winemakers employ to retard spoilage.
Acids Found in Wine
Tartaric acid and malic acid are the primary acid components in wine. The relative amounts of these two acids are different for each varietal and can be changed by environmental variables, viticultural practices and winemaking philosophies.
Both acids are classified as non-volatile acids, meaning they do not boil off when the wine is heated. This is important because if they were volatile acids, their concentration would be far less in the wine.
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