The Zen of Wine: Part II

Posted by The Wine Whore |

Fun Friday Wine Fact:

The tart tang of a lemon is instantaneously recognizable to most people. Within seconds of contact, the prickly acid penetrates the tongue causing a refreshingly rush of saliva. While often less pronounced, the acid present in wine triggers much of the same effect.

The astringent, tingling tang of acid is intensely detected by the receptors around the edges of the tongue near the front of the mouth. Every sip that washes wine over these receptors triggers this recognizable reply of tartness.

The amount of acid naturally produced in grapes can be significantly altered by ambient climate. Cooler climates amplify acidity while warmer climates create less acidic grapes. Nature may shape the palette, but nurture determines the final product. Acidity in wine is altered like a dimmer switch enhancing or degrading sweetness. Turn the switch up too high and the result is "tart". Turn the switch off and the low levels of acidity make it overly sweet or "flat." When the perfect level is found, the acidity will maintain the wine�s freshness while also molding its flavor components.

Winemakers experiment with this acidity �light switch� to create the perfect balance of taste and texture. Winemakers either increase acidity by adding more acid or reduce it through processes such as malolactic fermentation (MLF). MLF reduces the acidity by converting malic acid (strong acid) into lactic acid (softer acid). The result is a softer wine allowing other traits to shine over what was previously dominated by acidity.

Although it plays a key role, acidity is only one of several components in wine that contribute to the overall taste, feel, and balance. Over the next several weeks �The Zen of Wine� will address each component explaining how they contribute to the overall balance of wine. Understanding not only how these factors work, but also how they are perceived will aid in discerning them when tasting a bottle of wine.

To be continued�.

Previous Zen of Wine posts:
The Zen of Wine: Part I

(Read more wine reviews and info at The Wine Whore)

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The Wine Whore said...

That would actually be a great experiment. I would also be interested to see how the results are influenced by different types of wine. Cheers!

Jack said...

Actually, the tongue areas are not very precise. It is more generally acknowledged that the tastebuds are scattered (over the tongue as well as the back of the throat near the olfactory bulb), although there is a preponderance of one type or another clustered as indicated. And most of taste is due to aromas, too; a lemony smell will pre-program you to sense tartness/acidity.

The Wine Whore said...

Great response Jack!

Shelly, looks like you will also need to try your experiment with something inhibiting your sense of smell.

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