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Seeking low-acid wines? Read on

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     Reader Diane Smith e-mails: “Are there any wines that do not contain any or very low acid content? I can't drink carbonation, beer or wine. Any suggestions on wine would be appreciated. Thanks.”

     Thanks for the question, Diane.

      First, only champagnes and sparkling wines have any significant carbonation, so they’re pretty easy to avoid.

     Second, about a year ago I wrote a wine column about acid in wines. Here's part of what it said:

    * Red wines tend to be lower in acid than whites.

     * Dry wines tend to be lower in acid than sweet wines.

     * Wines from warm areas like Chile, Australia and Central California tend to be lower in acid than wines from cooler areas like Mendocino, Germany, Alsace, Champagne, Northern Italy and such.

      Here's the longer version, for those who are interested:

      All grapes produce fruit acids -- tartaric and malic -- as they develop. In cool climates, acids are higher; in warm climates, acids are lower. After fermentation, winemakers put many white wines and most red wines through a second process called called malolactic fermentation to produce the rich, round wines Americans love. This converts the sharp malic acids into softer lactic acids similar to those in milk.

     When the wines are finished, their acids are measured in two ways -- total acid (TA) and pH. Here's how they work:

     * TA or Total Acid (the higher the TA, the higher the acid):

          -- 1.0 grams per liter (g/l) is too high; the wine is tart and sour.

          -- 0.4 percent g/l is too low; the wine is flat and bland.

          -- A typical California wine is around 0.6 percent g/l.

     * PH, another way of measuring acid, works in reverse -- the lower the pH, the higher the acid:

          -- A pH of 4.0 is too high, meaning too little acid; the wine is likely to spoil.

          -- A pH of 3.0 is too low; the wine is tart.

          -- A typical California white wine has a pH of about 3.4; a typical California red has a pH of about 3.6.

     Sometimes you'll find these values on the back label. If not, you can Google the winery's website, look for "tasting notes" or "technical data" and find the acid values.

         Anybody else have a question?
        Want to make a comment?
        Want to tell about your latest favorite wine, your fabulous wine trip?
        It's easy: Click on the word "comments" below.

Posted by Fred Tasker at 05:17 PM

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diane smith

Thanks so much for the vast and interesting information on my question. I will seek out the wamer climate wines next visit to a wine merchant. I will keep checking your blogs for interesting articles. Diane Smith

Cindy Brown

I read the article on acid in wines with great interest. I have the same challenges as Diane Smith. I have been confused about which wines are lower in acid due to the fact that most of the acid reflux advise websites state that whites are more acidic than reds. Here you say that it is the opposite as have a couple of other wine sites. So, based on your advise, I should look at reds from a warm climate. Are any particular reds lower overall in acid?

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