Looking to understand taste and balance in wine? Then be sure to read Bill Zacharkiw, the Montreal Gazette’s wine critic who has written a lovely piece about wine and balance.
The impetus for the article came one night when Zacharkiw moonlighting as a sommelier, was asked by a wine-loving couple – “whether it was true that wine with a lower alcohol level is better than one with a higher level”.
Seems simple enough, but definitely requiring more than a yes or no question.
In fact, states Zacharkiw, “Wine is complex, and alcohol is but one element that will affect its taste, smell and texture.” Acidity, tannins and how a wine was made, also determines how a wine is balanced.”
Certainly, Zacharkiw explains better than anyone that…
- certain grapes for example the Grenache attain full ripeness only at high alcohol levels
- higher levels of alcohol will lessen the sensation of acidity
- alcohol can accentuate tannins making them feel drier and bitter
- and alcohol will be pronounced when wine is served over 20C.
While Zacharkiw himself prefers a wine with less alcohol, there are cases where he agrees a wine does taste better when it has a higher alcohol content.
And of course, it all depends on your own personal taste and the foods that you are pairing with it.
Bill Zacharkiw is the head sommelier and caviste at the Relais-Chateau L’eau a la Bouche in Ste. Adele, owner of Fonduementale restaurant on St. Denis St. in Montreal and author of the Caveman’s Wineblog,
The Wine Butler would like to remind all it’s customers, to always drink responsibly.