The Dry truth about White Wine.


Acidity vs Sweetness

We all know what a dry wine is. But do we really know what a dry wine is? Some people love it, others hate it. Why does white wine taste sour? For a big portion of wine drinkers it’s the reason they only drink red wine; that dry astringency just doesn’t delight in the same way as something full & fruity.

Well here’s the news flash drinkers - that’s not dryness you don’t like, it’s acidity, and usually unbalanced acidity as a result of bad wine making.

Now for some science:

Acidity & Sweetness are two of the four fundamental traits that go into making wine tasty. The first is the pH level of the wine as a result of natural acids in the fruit & making process. The second is the amount of natural sugar (grams per litre) left behind from the fruit after fermentation. Different levels of each can dramatically affect our taste buds perception of how dry a wine is.

acid scale

sugar scale

Take Coca Cola for example, it has a similar pH to that of a lemon, but because of the amount of sugar in the Coca Cola, our perception of that acidity is far more enjoyable than sucking on a lemon. By the same definition if you were to take the 108g/litre of sugar in coke (yes that’s 21 teaspoons), mix it in a litre of water & take a sip most people would agree that the sickly sweet solution would be pretty horrendous. It’s all about balance; the acidity makes it enjoyable & refreshing which is exactly the same for wine.

High Acid low sugar

A wine too high in acidity but not enough sugar can taste bitter, astringent & far too puckering. It’s what puts a lot of people off white wine.

Wines too high in sugar but lacking acidity can be sickly & cling to the mouth. These wines give sweeter wine styles (like Riesling) a bad name.

A well balanced wine will have the light, refreshing, spritzy characteristics from the acidity. With the fruity moreishness from the sugar. TASTY!

So how do you make sure you get balanced wines? Well unfortunately it is the signature of mass produced, poor quality brands to add in acid & sugar unnaturally after fermentation has taken place. Sometimes they get it right & the wine tastes great, but your hit rate is definitely going to be lower. Quality wine makers get it right in the field. (See our last blog about how just a few quid more translates to 300% better wine.) Understanding how the climate of the region has affected the ripeness of the grapes & adjusting crop or their harvest timings accordingly. These wines are naturally well balanced & naturally super tasty. Exactly what we love at Smashed Grapes, so if you're not normally into dry wines. Dry, Dry again.

If your still not convinced white wines are for you try these 3 top tips for reducing the sour effects of acidity:

  1. Look out for low acid grape varieties like Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer & Viognier.
  2. Get your white wines icey cold to dull the acidity. (Note this will reduce fruitiness too)
  3. Salt reduces acidity & increases fruitiness in wine, so always enjoy it with salty snacks.

Now you know how we pick the sexiest, most refreshing wines from around the world for our cases why not sign up now & give them a try? After all, the proof is in the drinking!