Major Wine Components: Acids

#3 in a series by Peter di Lorenzi

Three principal acids noticeably affect the taste and ‘mouth-feel’ of red and white wines. They also tell us a great deal about the growing  conditions of the grapes used to make the wines and about the sensory ‘targets’ of the winemakers who produced them:

•    MALIC ACID  —  The acid of under-ripe grapes.  This component is present in wines from cooler climates/vintages as well as from grapes harvested before ideal ripeness for a number of reasons, including winemaker intent.

•    TARTARIC ACID  —  The principal, desirable acid of table wines.  It is the acid that provides expanding  structure and flavor balance to a wine’s fruitiness, and to its degree of residual sugar.

•    LACTIC ACID  —  The acid that, when noticeably present in a wine, contributes a gentler acid profile and a degree of smoother, ‘buttery’ mouth-feel.

[Next component preview:  tannins]

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