by Anthony F. Alvarez
There are so many reasons to look forward to the summer months. For me it’s golf, the beach or lake, grilling out and evenings on the patio with a great bottle of wine. Here at The Vineyard Wine Market in the Smyrna Village or at the new Vineyard Wine Bar & Trattoria in Kennesaw, we know what the best varietals and blends are best for the upcoming summer heat.
What are some of my favorite wines of the summer? If the day is really hot and not so humid, I will be drinking an Albarino, Vinho Verde, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire or New Zealand, or perhaps a Rose from the south of France? But wait a minute, I love Red Wine too. And the options for Red Wines are just as many. Open a bottle of a fruit driven Zinfandel from California, a Beaujolais or Pinot Noir, a lovely Grenache from the South of Spain, a Rhone blend from Paso Robles or the Rhone Valley in France. Each of these Reds will go great with something char-grilled in a bun.
Whether I drink white, rose or red, the most important thing to me in my summer wines will be acidity. I know, I know, what is he writing about now? To set the stage for this conversation, I think it’s important to know what role acids play in the enjoyment of your wine. Acidity is a very complex subject. But for this conversation, we will simply say, all wines contain acid, no exceptions. When we taste wine, we experience the sensation of acids on the outer sides of our tongue and feel the mouth-watering affect it has on our salivary glands. Acid is the refreshing and cleansing sensation on one’s palate.
According to Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly, “Acids are one of 4 fundamental traits in wine (the others are tannin, alcohol and sweetness). Acidity gives wine its tart and sour taste. Fundamentally speaking, all wines lie on the acidic side of the pH spectrum and most range from 2.5 to about 4.5 pH (7 is neutral). There are several different types of acids found in wine which will affect how acidic a wine tastes. The most prevalent acids found in wine are tartaric acid, malic acid, and citric acid.”
Another way to think about this is that a well-known Atlanta cola has about the same acidity as a raw lemon, about 3.5 pH. But because the cola has sweetener added, the acidity is not so intense. Therefore, sweetness decreases the taste of acidity just as saltiness and fattiness balance out the sour taste of acidity. Think French fries and champagne- a great combo of acidity, salt and fat which equals a divine experience.
Acidity also plays a very important role in the age worthiness of a wine. If it is in balance with the alcohol, sugars and tannins, it works as a middleman to buffer the wine enabling it to age longer.
We could get geekier here but consider this: When I take a sip of wine on my back deck on a hot Atlanta day, if my salivary glands aren’t kicking into overdrive or my char-grilled buffalo burger is not the best thing ever, I’ve made the wrong choice of wine.
Acidity levels are not listed on a label, but maybe they should be.