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Freshness: The secret is in balance! 28 Mar '19

Last week I was in Germany again. Another Prowein, probably the most important fair for wine producing companies. Only in visitors there were more than 60.000, coming from 142 different nations. Exhibiting companies were about 6.900, arriving from 64 different countries. And as for us, Portugal, we were well represented. We took 387 companies to show the world the good wine that is produced here. This was the 25th edition of this fair in the city of Düsseldorf and, this year, even the Prime Minister António Costa visited us.

Returning once more to Germany made me think that this country definitively marked my journey. A country that will always have a connection to what I chose to do with my life. It was in Geisenheim - Wiesbaden - that I did ERASMUS, in 2001. During Prowein I found myself thinking that was in German lands that I wrote my thesis, with a viticulture theme. And it was also there that I woke up for the importance of the acidity of a wine, not only for the elegance and vivacity that it can transmit, but also for being one of the most important elements in the longevity of any wine.

Usually, we do not speak a lot about it, outside oenology, but the truth is that the acidity of a wine, alongside with pH, is the element responsive for the sensation of freshness in a wine.

Basically, it works like this: a wine with larger acidity and a pH relatively low has much more aging potential than a wine of similar characteristics but with smaller acidity and higher pH. The pH is the measure of the degree of relative acidity versus the relative alkalinity of any liquid. It has a scale from 0 to 14, 7 being neutral and below 7 acid. Therefore, a white wine with pH 3,0 will have, in similar conditions, more aging potential than a white with pH 3,5. And, of course, it will provide larger sensation of freshness (acidity).

If oenology should be the scientific road to reach the terroir expression and, in last analysis, to be an art expression through the result of the several decisions that the winemaker takes to do its wine, then the acidity of any wine should be understood inside of the complex matrix of the elements that make the wine, as the alcohol, the tannins or its extract. If so, a level of acidity and pH in balance with the remaining elements are capable of, besides the longevity, creating that elegance that the great wines should have.

Nothing happens by chance. No element that composes a good wine is there, and in that measure, just because. The secret is in the perfect balance among the several elements. And it is the result of that balance that can transform a good wine in a great wine.


Hélder Cunha
The wine’s my life