We grew up learning that red wine goes with meat while white wine goes with fish. Over the years, we picked up a few more wine pairing tips, a number of which I covered in my “Best Wine Pairings” article. Today, I’m going to focus on the acidity of wine and how it plays a role in wine pairing. Special thanks to Madeline Puckette’s Wine Folly The Master Guide, Berry Bros. & Rudd and The Modern Somm for their help with this article.
Do We Like High-acid Wines?
We love them! High-acid wines, also known as crisp wines, are great with food, especially with fatty dishes. Think of the beautiful pairing of Champagne and salmon. How about Chianti (the grape is Sangiovese) with an Italian dish dripping in olive oil? Yum!
High-acid Wines Are a Great Palate Cleanser
A key reason that high-acid wines pair so well with fatty dishes is that fatty dishes tend to coat your mouth. High-acid wines cut through that coating and act as a palate cleanser. Champagne, for example, cuts right through the oiliness of salmon, making you much more ready for your next bite of food.
Which Should Have More Acidity, the Wine or the Food?
The wine! If you’re serving a salad with vinaigrette, for example, you will want to make sure to serve Sauvignon Blanc, which will be able to compete with the vinaigrette.
If the wine has less acidity than the food, the wine will taste flat or flabby. Picture the same salad with a Chardonnay. Not a pretty image.
Acidity Is Good for Balance
Matching the acidity levels in the wine and food will actually calm down the whole acidity experience, enabling you to better notice all the flavors in your meal. So, if you have foods with high levels of acid such as tomatoes you want to pair a “cancelling wine” like Chianti.
My favorite high-acid whites are Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Champagne/Sparkling Wine.
My favorite high-acid red is Sangiovese.
What are your favorite high-acid wines?
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