These are two of the most dominant factors in choosing a wine. Red wines have tannin at varying levels that affect the “astringency” of the wine. White wines have acidity that affect the “crispness”.
Tannin is one of those factors that people either love or hate. It causes that dried out, mouth puckering sensation in wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. It’s also present in softer red wines such as Valpolicella or Pinot Noir, but at the lower level in these wines, that dried out sensation is hardly noticeable. Tannin comes from the grape skins, seeds and stems as well as the addition of oak. The longer the grape juice is left in contact with the skins after crushing, the more tannin that is extracted. Also, each grape has it’s own intrinsic level of tannin. So we can say that in general a Cabernet Sauvignon will have more tannin than a Pinot Noir. However, if the wine maker chooses to leave the Pinot Noir skins in contact with the juice for longer periods of time, he can increase the tannins that way. But traditionally that’s not the case.
Here then is a guide to some of the more popular red wines, sorted from highest amount of tannin to lowest, according to their grapes properties:
White wines are typically arranged by their level of acidity. Sauvignon Blanc grapes have a high level of acidity and produce a very dry, crisp wine. Liebfraumilch (a Riesling blend) tend to have a low level of acidity and come across soft and easy to drink. That’s not to be confused with a dry wine with regards to residual sugar. Even a Sauvignon Blanc can be sweetened and still be quite crisp.
White wines sorted from highest acidity to lowest would look like this:
Ray Vezeau is the owner of Chateau Vezeau Wines, a ferment on premises store in Brooklin.