There are a few different types of acidities found within wines. The most important are citric, malic and tartaric. All of these are perceived in the same way on the palate – as a zingy sensation. It is the acidity in wines that make them appear refreshing and lively. White wines will have naturally more acidity than red wines, which is why they often appear fresher and livelier than their red counterparts.
Acidity is also important in wine as it helps to balance out those that are higher in residual sugar as well as acting as a natural preservative. The main feature of acidity is that it will give you a mouth-watering feeling across your palate.
NOTE: Wines could actually have a medium-high acidity but perceived as being low due to a high level of tannin or sweetness. When we talk about low and high acidity we are talking about how they are perceived.
Low Acidity – Wines with low acidities will often be red as they have tannins that distract us and make us perceive them as lower than the acidity level actually is. These wines will also be from hot climates – we know this as when grapes ripen the acidity levels drop, and the sugar levels rise. Thus wines with low acidities have high sugar levels which means it must be from a hot climate.
When tasting wines with low acidities they often feel flabby and soft. Think about a soft drink that has gone flat – it tastes, well, flat. Whereas with the CO2 bubbles act as the acidity and it feels fresh and lively.
High Acidity – Wines with high acidities will more often than not be white, though there are plenty of exceptions to this rule. When tasting a wine with high acidity you will recognise a crisp, zesty character that makes the wine appear refreshing.