Q: Due to a lower tolerance for acidity, I have to stop drinking high acidic wine and switch to those that are lower. I am a red wine drinker. My question is do you have any recommendations and how I might identify low acidic wines? Many thanks.
That is a great question, which we are frequently asked. Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer that would apply 100% of the time.
Wine in general is quite an acidic beverage with white wines usually higher in acid than reds. It’s actually this acidity that contributes to its aging potential and also allows it to pair so wonderfully with food. For those of us who have to be mindful of that acidity, there are a few key factors you can address when selecting your wines.
Generally speaking wines that come from cooler climates will have higher acidity than those from warmer climates. As grapes first begin to ripen on the vine, their acidity will be high and as they mature, the acidity diminishes while the sugar in the grapes increases. In cooler climates, the growing season may not be as lengthy and/or the nighttime temperatures may drop down quite significantly, in some cases dropping up to 25 degrees Celsius! This difference in day and night temperatures, or the swing in temperature is called the diurnal. Central Otago, in southern New Zealand, has one of the most dramatic fluctuations of all wine regions worldwide, with temps often at 35 degrees C in the afternoon, dropping down to 10 degrees C at midnight.
Hence, you may be familiar with their signature white grape Sauvignon Blanc, known for their zesty acidity. For low acid wines, reach for warm climate bottles, like reds from most of California, Australia, southern Italy, France and Spain. Because many wine regions have varying climates, it’s not a foolproof strategy but a good start.
Having said all of that, many wineries adjust the acid in the wine during the winemaking process so this doesn’t necessarily apply all of the time. If you can get your hands on technical sheets, you will see that the average acidity will fall between 6.5 and 7.5 g/l. This information is often available on the websites for the wines. You can look for wines that are closer to the 6.5.
We should also mention that there are some varietals that tend to be less acidic, such as a Merlot or Shiraz versus a Cabernet France, Pinot Noir or Italy’s big gun, the Nebbiolo. Kathy, start with warm climate wines and see if that helps at all and please do keep us posted. If you come upon a red wine in particular that works for you, let us know and we will be happy to share.