A priori, we relate acidity with something bad, strong, and even unpleasant in any food, including wines, but acidity is necessary for wine and today we are going to explain where it comes from, how it is measured and why it is important.
We will begin by explaining where the acidity of wines comes from. To simplify, there are two types of acidity, the natural acidity of the grape and the acidity resulting from fermentation.
In the case of grape acidity, we will find several types of acids in grape berries, but we will focus on two. The first is tartaric acid, the most abundant and characteristic of wine and performs functions as a natural acidifier and preservative, communicating a certain ‘hardness’ when drinking if it is very abundant, in addition, if during winemaking there are low temperatures, crystals of potassium and calcium salts can form, which are harmless, which can be found in some bottles, indicating that the wine has not been stabilized properly. On the other hand, we have malic acid, more characteristic in white grape wines, it is found in greater quantity in the must and not in the wine, being important for the preservation and life of some wines and disappears by the action of lactic bacteria.
As for the acids coming from fermentation, we can find three of the most remarkable ones. Acetic acid is a natural product of fermentation and produces sour tastes and odors, being responsible for the volatile acidity of wines and increasing slightly with malolactic fermentation. Lactic acid, which is produced from malic acid when it is metabolized by lactic bacteria during the so-called malolactic fermentation, is much more abundant in reds than in whites, since the latter are not usually subjected to malolactic fermentation. Finally, succinic acid, which is formed during fermentation thanks to the action of yeasts, does not evolve with the wine and is one of the elements that produce the characteristic flavor of fermented beverages, producing salty and bitter as well as acidic flavors in the wine.
In view of this, it is clear that wine naturally contains different acids in its composition and that all wines are acidic by nature. But… Why is acidity necessary and important in a wine? Because it is one of the main factors that determine the quality of the wine, since acidity is essential for the preservation of wines, as well as being essential for their organoleptic properties.
Therefore, a quality wine must have acidity, although this acidity must maintain a balance between the different acid parameters present in the wine, namely pH, total acidity, volatile acidity and malic acid.
The pH will intervene in the acid sensation of the wine in the mouth, although it will also influence the color and conservation of the wine, the normal pH values in wines being between 3.10 and 3.90.
Acidity can be measured as total acidity, which reflects the sum of all the acids in the wine, expressed as tartaric acid, and the usual values range between 4.50 and 6.00 g/l, and volatile acidity, which calculates the acetic acid in a wine, the normal values being between 0.30 and 0.60 g/l.
And finally, malic acid, which gives us an acid and fresh sensation in the mouth. Red wines, which have undergone malolactic fermentation to eliminate this malic acid, have less acidity of this type compared to white and rosé wines.
Having said all this, wines are considered to have a pleasant nose and palate when the overall perception of acidity is balanced with other factors of the wine, such as the alcoholic content, as is the case of our three references, Secuencial, a fresh wine with medium acidity very well balanced, Villazo, with a playful and fresh acidity very well balanced, and Ingénito, with a masterfully balanced acidity… Have you tried them yet?