What to drink… Mas­ter of Wine Richard Hem­ming seeks some acidic zing for his wines this month

Living France - - À LA MAISON -

There are only a few golden rules when it comes to match­ing wine and food. One of them is to pick a high-acid wine when you’re serv­ing fatty food. Con­fit de ca­nard is the ideal dish to put this the­ory to the test. Com­pared to most food and drink, all wine is rel­a­tively high in acid. How­ever, acidic strength can vary quite a lot be­tween dif­fer­ent types of wine. Thank­fully, there are a few easy tips you can learn to fig­ure out if a wine is likely to be high or low in acid­ity.

Cli­mate is the first key fac­tor to con­sider. Cooler re­gions pro­duce less ripe grapes than warm ones, and less ripe grapes tend to have higher acid­ity. In France, that means that the more northerly ter­roirs such as the Loire Val­ley will pro­duce wines higher in acid­ity than those from the warmer Mediter­ranean re­gions such as the Rhône Val­ley.

The sec­ond vari­able is grape va­ri­ety. There are a few va­ri­eties that are

Tré­sors de Loire, Cu­vée 845 Chenin Blanc 2014 Loire (£7 Sains­bury’s) Loire Chenin Blanc is so un­der­val­ued! This is a great ex­am­ple of its type: crisp, zesty and refreshing with punchy cit­rus fruit. Loire Chenin is of­ten demi-sec, but this one is bone dry. par­tic­u­larly renowned for hav­ing high acid­ity. For white wines, Chenin Blanc and Sauvi­gnon Blanc are the two best known, whereas the ex­otic Gewürz­traminer from Al­sace is nearly al­ways low in acid­ity. For red wines, Caber­net Sauvi­gnon and Pinot Noir are nat­u­rally acidic, while Grenache is much less so.

Acid­ity makes the wine taste crisp and mouth-wa­ter­ing. If it’s too high, it can be sour and tart, but if it’s too low, the wine lacks def­i­ni­tion. This is known as ‘flab­bi­ness’ among wine nerds. Ideally, you’d pick a wine that has enough acid­ity to cut through the fat­ti­ness of the recipe you are cook­ing. Of course, the flavours should be com­ple­men­tary too – but this is much more about per­sonal pref­er­ences, which is much harder to cater for!

Here are some very dif­fer­ent sug­ges­tions to pro­vide max­i­mum vari­a­tion – all of which have the bright acid­ity needed to go with duck.

De­las, St-Es­prit 2013 Côtes-du-Rhône (£7.95 The Wine So­ci­ety, £9.99 Ma­jes­tic Wine) Most Côtes du Rhône is made from the Grenache grape, but this ex­am­ple uses quite a lot of Syrah, giv­ing it some acidic zing. Rhône red is full bod­ied and hearty with juicy black fruit.

Cave St-Verny Pinot Noir 2014 Puy de Dôme (£8.99 Booths and widely avail­able) If you pre­fer lighter red, go for Pinot Noir. This one is from the Au­vergne re­gion in the cen­tre of France, and it has all the clas­sic hall­marks of the va­ri­ety: refreshing acid­ity, soft tan­nin and juicy red fruit.

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