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Balanced wines go with food

My last blog touched on the diversity of dry wines, and it focused on wine`s residual sugar (RS)– that`s the sugar left following completion of the wine`s alcoholic fermentation. On average, for fine wines, it`s around 2g per litre. The other key components in wine are acidity, primarily tartaric, but also citric and malic, and alcohol itself; and then there`s the fruit quality as well, with tannins (also an acidity) playing its part primarily in red wines.  And it`s these components winemakers strive to achieve in balance, to drink well with food. He or she will endeavour to be true to the grape, as well as to the terroir, but in the making of fine wine his or her objective will almost always be a balanced wine which will go well with food; often the local food. So what is a balanced wine? Let`s take an example: NZ`s Tinpot Hut Pinot Gris (deliciously fresh quintessential Pinot Gris) has 2.2g per litre RS, with a PH of 3.25, total acidity of 5.9g per litre and an alcohol content (ABV) of 12.5% Vol. For this white wine, it is the perfect balance, and a joy with spicy foods. Despite climate change it`s a good balance of components with a firm lid on the ABV. These levels are not uncommon, but equally a lot of dry wines barely register any residual sugar at all, sometimes but by no means always with correspondingly high alcohol levels, coming in at 14 and 14.5% by volume. The winemakers making these are choosing balance, at the expense of popularity. But they are right to do so because balance is crucial if we prize wine`s great affinity with food, as we do.  If we want wine`s to be fresh with the intensity, structure, and breeding of a fine wine, we may well have to accept higher alcohols in the long term. Indeed, we already do. Meantime, UK`s vastly improved and diverse culinary offering is being matched by its wines, so be sure not to let them pass you by. Cheers, everyone!

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