Wine Talk

Snooth User: Avv

Are new wines becomming to acid

Posted by Avv, Apr 1, 2011.

Is it just me or are new wines Particularly whites and lighter reds becomming more acid. Is this consumer driven or are we accepting the advise of our learned collegues. I see more and more young wines winning awards that are fiercly acid and not that approachable when young. Do we prefer these styles???


Reply by zufrieden, Apr 1, 2011.

Your observation may be a result of personal selection; that is, your assessment of recent winemaking trends might be colored by what you have been drinking of late.  Certainly the wines of the north (Canada, Germany, Chablis, Elsass, New England, Austria) are acidic per se - except in exceptional vintages where sufficient heat units are available to permit better sugar levels.

Personally, I do see some trend in this direction in the northern US, Ontario, New York State, British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon and Idaho.  And I beleive it to be a good trend - depending on the grape variety and the goals of the winemaker.  I do not like over extracted, thick, viscous wines unless made to order; namely, certain Australian, Californian, Chilean and Argentine wines that bring power and cake-like substance to your drinking experience - an experience, admittedly, that I enjoy without worrying about food (just wine).  

Having said all this as a personal confession, maybe you could give us an idea of some of the wines you have been drinking that give you this idea of a trend toward greater acidity.  


Reply by GregT, Apr 1, 2011.

Avv - I don't know that acidity makes a wine more or less approachable when young or old.  Where would the acidity go with age?  Nor are wines becoming more apparently acidic as far as I can tell - quite the opposite actually.

Don't forget, the actual measureable levels of acidity and what seems acidic can be quite different.  For one thing there are various forms of acidity and for another, the other components can make a given level of acidity more or less palatable. 

I think what's happening is that all over the world, as "traditional" areas are waking up from political and economic slumber, they're improving wines that once were harsh and nasty.  All over Bulgaria, Slovenia even Italy and Spain, the wines that were once "rustic" if you want to be charitable or "crap" if you want to speak plainer English - those wines are today pretty good in many cases.  Not that they're less acidic - maybe just as acidic as ever but they've got better fruit and structure than ever.

I think there are a few people who lament "fruit bombs" but those people often tend to be of a religious bent - they want to convince everyone else that what they like it best.  Not true.

Reply by dmcker, Apr 1, 2011.

I think it'd make for more intelligent discussion to talk in specifics--actual examples of wines of whatever varietal from whatever locale and winemaker...

If anything, I think over the past two or three decades the trend has been *away* from acidity and towards more round, fruity, easy drinking in a sodapoppy way, across a wide range of prices.

You also need to address the issue of how acid is key in ensuring ageability of wine. Lack of it is why you have expensive cabs from the New World that aren't even drinkable much more than five years after release...

Reply by The Gourmet Bachelor, Apr 1, 2011.

I know what you mean, it's the taste of sucking on a lemon wedge....ewww! Pair that sour wine with a piece of fresh, seared Swordfish!

Wine should always taste balanced. If it's too oaky, too ripe, too tannic, too dry, it's a lemon...bahhhhaha : )

Reply by Degrandcru, Apr 2, 2011.

"Avv - I don't know that acidity makes a wine more or less approachable when young or old.  Where would the acidity go with age?  Nor are wines becoming more apparently acidic as far as I can tell - quite the opposite actually."

Greg, isn't this a contradicction? In my experience acidity doesn't get less with age, but often it blends in more as the wine gains structure. But probably thats what you wanted to say.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Apr 3, 2011.

I think that often acid levels are merely a consequence of the weather conditions during vintage for a particular region and its related impact on the grape crop.

2008,2009,2010 in South Australia has produced excellent growing conditions for Riesling in Clare and Eden Valley.  As a consequence we got some outstanding young rieslings with very good acid levels,, and in most cases were in the right balance with the fruit flavours.  I am expecting these wines to age like 2002.

The point is that in 2007 we had poor conditions due to frost etc and as a result the acid levels were comparatively lower and the wines have not shown the same level a flavour and structure as the better vintages.

To emphasize this in Clare and Eden Valley in 2008 we had a massive heatwave in early march pretty much massacered the cabernet crop. But the Riesling was already harvested

Reply by Avv, Apr 3, 2011.

Thanks for the discussion, I brought this topic up from a conversation i had recently with an American Oenologist who visited my cellar door and it was a general observation of his regarding Australian/New Zealand wines (whites in particular) And i tend to agree. Are we looking for brighter styles because they stand out in a bracket of 30 wines so we make wines to win awards or does the average punter prefer these racier styles or is it time to get the teeth re-enamelled,


Reply by Flamefighter, Apr 3, 2011.

Are we looking for brighter styles?  In a word - "Yes".  At least, I am; especially in whites.  I never was a fan of the so called "California Chardonnay" that had lots of oak and butter.  For me, any wine with a good amount of acidity pairs better with food, which is how I drink wine.  I suppose if you enjoy wine as a cocktail you may prefer a less acidic wine because you wouldn’t the “lemon effect” mentioned above.

Reply by Joeri A, Apr 3, 2011.

Hello, I am new on this site. Intresting point, Aw. It's all about balance. After having been overflown with sweet wines that were almost fruitjuice, more and more winemakers are going for equilibrium between acid, bitter and sweet. To my experience, more and more winemakers are rising the quality of their product. In some regions (US, Australia, S-A etc), this means a more delicat equilibrium with acids, read more acids then before. So you are rigth and this is (according to me) a very good evolution towards delicatesse, refinement, greatness.

Personally, I think that appreciation of more acid also comes with age, or in phases. Rigth now, I higly appreciate more acid wines then the 10 years before.

This might change again of course.



Reply by GregT, Apr 4, 2011.

Degrand - "Greg, isn't this a contradicction? In my experience acidity doesn't get less with age, but often it blends in more as the wine gains structure."

Depends.  Some people claim that wine ages on acidity.  I'm not sure - sometimes you just end up with a lot of of acidic juice.  I think Parker said it best - if a wine is unbalanced when young, it's not going to acquire balance with age.  Sometimes you have a lot of components that don't really hang together well and they integrate later, but if a wine is acidic in youth, it generally is acidic later.  Tannins polymerize and fall out, but acidity doesn't fade so much. 

And then again - I'm thinking of some whites and how some seem less acidic with age. I think what happens with them is that the other components become more complex.  The aging of white wine is an interesting subject all by itself and I honestly don't know that the acidic qualities lessen but maybe the breakdown of sugars and carbs and other materials creates a complexity that masks the acidity? 

But when you try to find some science re: aged white wines, there's precious little factual knowledge. 


Reply by napagirl68, Apr 4, 2011.

I think this depends on the wine and quality.  Cheaper, grocery store mass-produced wines tend to taste "vinegary" or acidic to me.  But they also lack depth.

I think a great quality wine can have a good acidity, but also be complex and balanced. That is what differentiates the winemakers...

I would not say that I see this as a trend... more of a differentiation of wineries/winemakers..  quality issue. 

I taste MANY wines that could actually use a bit MORE acid...

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Apr 4, 2011.

Totally agree, NG.  I like balance, but acid on the higher side of scale.  It really wakes up your palate, gets the ol' saliva going and helps you taste your food, all while leaving you so fresh and so clean-clean for another bite. 

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Apr 4, 2011.

NG - I agree with your  comments on the mass produced stuff, although some don't even have that much flavour they are just flavourless or worse. Acidity is one of the winemakers levers to achieve the style and quality he/she is aiming for.

GDD - As per many other posts your point on acid and saliva and food and palate freshness is well made - BTW you must be damn close to the big event unless I missed its occurence

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Apr 4, 2011.

SH, I have to be at the hospital in one hour and fortyseven minutes.  I didn't sleep at all last night, of course, so I got all my packing done then, leaving me a bit of time to futz around online.

I'm trying, in vain, not to totally freak out.  I'll post pics, of course.  ;)

Reply by DawgByte, Apr 5, 2011.

James Laube in the latest edition of Wine Spectator touches on this issue, which also ties in with the recent discussions of high alcoholic cabs and similar trend topics.

AW regarding your question about whether consumers are seeking "brighter" wines, I would guess that is a matter of individual taste. I haven't seen any recent Zogby polls confirming the average American wine drinker prefers brighter more acidic wines. I for one do not.

Reply by Audrey Amara, Oct 15, 2012.

I agree with Greg T., the wines of the "old world" which were once obscure are being enhanced and there are some real hidden gems around now. It may still be difficult to get a hold of these kinds of wines, like Balkan wines, for example, but when you do it is worth it!

Reply by Dottie Lake, Oct 15, 2012.

NO it is not just you AVV, they seemingly are becoming quite a bit more acidic!!!!   However, won't stop me from enjoying my dear

Reply by Dottie Lake, Oct 15, 2012.

They are becoming more acidic, but will not stop me from enjoying my dear

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