Ask IWG: Acidity and Organic Pairings

Camini from India asks: How do we calculate acidity in wines as well suggests food paring with Organic wines?

Thanks for sending in your questions.

There are several common acids found in wine.  First attack acids occur upon first drinking the wine.  These acids are malic and tartaric.  Malic acid is much like a granny smith apple, fairly tart.  Tartaric acid is found in wines that have been acidified, and it is bitter.  Second (or evolution) attack acids occur after the first couple of seconds of sipping the wine.  They are citric and malic.  Citric is found in lemons and tropical fruit.  Lactic acid is sour and can be found in milk.  A sip of buttermilk will never allow you to forget what lactic acid tastes like.  The only third (or finishing) attack acid occurs sometime after the first two.  It is succinc acid, which is somewhat bitter and a little salty.

With all these acids, they cause salivation, so even if you don't notice the flavor of the acid, you can always recognize acidity in wine due to salivation.  First attack causes salivation within the first second or so; second (evolution) attack acids cause salivation within two to four seconds; and the third (finishing) attack acid causes salivation at some point after this, and the salivation occurs from back to front.

To "calculate" how much acidity, just ask yourself how much it causes you to salivate.

To pair any wine, organic or not, with food, at its simplest, consider the "weight" of the food and the "weight" of the wine on the palate.  If the food "out-weighs" the wine, you'll never taste the wine.  If the wine "out-weighs" the food, you'll never taste the food.  Therefore, the best pairings will occur when the "weight" of the food and wine are the same.  Acid helps wash the palate clean of the food, aids in swallowing, and prepares the palate for the next bite.

Thanks again for writing to the International Wine Guild!

-Matthew Yoss

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