A question for the folks out there who are fans of both high acid and low acid wines: Do you approach the two styles of wine differently? Do you taste, drink, pair the wines differently?
I’ve been paying attention to wine for about a year now and I’ve definitely started out with high acid wines (German Riesling and Spatburgunder, Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir). Recently, though, I’ve tried a few Southern Rhone and Cotes de Ventoux (and even one of the Ridge Rhone ATP wines) that were definitely on the low acid side. While I found the wines ok, I felt like I was missing something. I’ve become used to that shock of acid as one of the basic elements of how a wine tastes and without it there, it’s almost like I forget to taste the wine. Even if there are big interesting flavors, they don’t really register.
I can find plenty of high acid wines, so I could easily just ride off into the sunset and drink cheap Burgundy from overly-acidic vintages for the rest of my life . I don’t want to completely right off low acid wines, yet, though. It’s just too early in my wine exploration and I have this nagging suspicion that with the right paring or the right style, I could find something I like. Am I just being ridiculous or is it actually possible to like both styles?
BTW, the wine that triggered this post was the 2006 Chateau Pesquie Cotes de Ventoux Artemia.
Like you, I have only really been on the “wine wagon” for a short amount of time (approx. 2yrs). I would say it is DEFINITELY possible to like both high and low acid wines. The food you pair it with certainly makes a difference for me. Wines with a good acidity pair easily with most foods and give you that mouth watering feeling. When you are used to zesty rieslings from cooler regions, a tannic, earthy red just seems really astringent. But some heartier foods can really overpower the lighter white wines. There are lots of people on this board with a great deal of experience and advice so I won’t say too much except that the more you taste and experiment, the more you can appreciate different styles. It’s just kind of the natural progression…
I’m an acid freak, but basically it’s all about balance.
Wines that are overblown, low in acid, high in alcohol, too extracted, etc, are very palate-fatiguing. They might be a “wow” wine in the first couple of sips, but to me, that is about all I can handle of them. After that, they become hard to drink. And frankly, mostly they do not go well with food. Some people call these “cocktail wines” because they are better drunk without food, maybe after dinner.
As far as balance is concerned, just taking sweetness and acidity into account, think about it this way. That Riesling you like, that tastes acidic? Well, chances are, it has some RS (residual sugar). Now think about how that wine would taste without as much acidity. It would be syrupy and unenjoyable. Kind of like a too-sweet lemonade (without enough lemon!). If you make that lemonade with a LOT of sugar, chances are it will still taste good if you use a LOT of lemons. A wine without enough acidity will never taste truly balanced (even without RS) because it also is working against what might be a fruity sweetness (not sweet as far as glucose/fructose is concerned, but the perceived sweetness fruit often gives a wine), in addition to the alcohol, tannins, etc.
So, as Guillaume said, just drink what you like.
In general, lower acid wines are better for sipping on, higher acid wines better with food. “Better” for sipping means goes down easier like a big glass of Pepsi vs a big glass of grapefruit juice. (Though Pepsi isn’t actually low on acid, it’s just overwhelmed by the sugar). “Better” with food means it’ll stand up to and complement the food vs. a low acid wine being buried by the meal.
But, yeah, it’s about balance and mostly about what you like.
Um, what she said!
Some people talk about balancing sweetness or alcohol with tannins, but they tend not to appreciate the acid thing, and o miss out. I’m trying to train myself into liking some fruit bombs, but indeed they become fatiguiing. the Rhone wines I like are also minerally and with enough acid balance, even if they’re not THAT high in acid, they have enough for that style!!! Flabby wine you will find dull. That’s ok. Stick with it, and branch out slowly if you have to. I’m starting to find some Petite Sirahs (often classic fruit-n-tannin bombs) to be nicely-made, even with huge fruit and big tannins… because the good ones are still blessed with some acidity, even if they are apparently “fruit-sweet”. Still no match for a good PN though
Though I was brought up on classic French and German wines, from a young age, I do find a lot of wines too acidic also, so I’m not into the bad burgundy vintages. So consistency? That’s what Carneros an Oregon are for I have my preferences, and there are some good hybrid styles which allow you to enjoy more fruit than the pyrazines or whatever that French wine lovers like! At Christmas, I compared a Macrostie merlot to a lower-end claret, and they each had their strengths, but in that particular comparison I personally preferred the fruit and soft balance of the Sonoma wine! But then it still had good enough acidity (and enough age an aeration . Another day, with another meal, I might want more bell-pepper/astringency and go with an inexpensive claret!
IMO, go, enjoy what you ike, and keep tasting. I’m still learning myself! The good ones will be acidic, not overly-oaked to hide flaws, and not taste of alcohol!