Continuing our look at wine terms:
• Acidity. Key component; pH is one measure. Water has pH of 7, while wines typically range between 3 and 4. Without acidity, wine is flabby or flat. Too much acidity, wine is tart, shrill, or excessively lean. White wines typically have more acidity than reds, cool climate wines more acidity than warm climate wines. Acidity is key component of food-friendly, in part because acidity “cleanses the palate” to enhance your ability to taste next bite of food.
• Tannin. Most often found in red wines because it comes from contact with skins, seeds, stems, and oak. Tannin causes puckering sensation in your mouth in same way as strong tea. Tannins are a preservative and essential to long-term aging of red wines—cabernet sauvignon is poster pour. In young such reds, tannins can make wine almost undrinkable. But give the bottle some years and tannins will mellow, magic will happen.
• Alcohol. Yeasts convert sugar in grape juice into carbon dioxide and ethanol to make wine. Alcohol plays key role in wine bouquet since its evaporation carries smells from wine surface to your nose. Alcohol adds body and viscosity (how the wine flows in your mouth). It also is reason you should not drive after a couple of glasses.
• Body. Heft of wine in your mouth. A light body, most often found in whites, glides gently over your palate. Bold, full-bodied wines, usually reds, feel heavy, thick, or big in your mouth. In general, lighter wines have more acidity, lower alcohol, less tannin, and may taste less sweet. Bolder wines have less acidity, higher alcohol, more tannin, and taste sweeter (although most do not have residual sugar—alcohol tastes sweet even though alcohol is not sugar).
• Messina Hof Barrel Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon Texas 2015: Workman-like cab at fair price; does not drink like California commodity cab. $11-13
• Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2015: Textbook New Zealand sauv blanc, widely available. $14-18
• Frei Brothers Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2014: Everything you desire in zin at this price. $16-20
• Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2013: Serious red at affordable price. $22-24
Last round: Novinophobia: Fear of running out of wine.