Pinot noir acidity is typically described as bright acidity (i.e., high acidity).
The natural acidity in all wines is an essential element in all types of wine. Wine geeks and wine tasters might use terms like bright acidity, lively acidity, and balanced acidity. Those ways of describing the level of acidity in wine are only helpful if you have the right background.
How Does Acidity Influence Pinot Noir Flavors?
A balanced wine has complex flavors, including fruit flavors, acidity, alcohol concentration, and other elements. Pinot Noir wines typically have multiple flavors depending on where they are made. For simplicity, compare American Pinot Noir to French Pinot Noir
American Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, made in Sonoma County, is an excellent example of new world red wine. The region’s wine has fruit flavors like black plum, black cherry, and spice notes. Black fruit notes are typical in this area’s beautiful wine. Other US wine regions that offer great Pinot Noir include California’s Sonoma Coast and Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
French Pinot Noir
Some of France’s best-known Pinot Noir wines are also the most expensive wines in the world. Drinking Domaine Romanee Conti (“DRC”) Pinot Noir from Burgundy is lovely but can cost you thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are also excellent affordable French Pinot Noir.
French Pinot Noir has fruit notes like black cherry and grapefruit. In addition, the wines often have spice notes (e.g., baking spice rather than Asian spices) and a bitter flavor. The bitterness comes from the wine’s tannins (e.g., fine-polished tannins).
Food Pairings For Pinot Noir
The vibrant flavors in Pinot Noir wine make it one of the world’s favorite wines. The dark fruit notes and moderate alcohol percentage (usually 13.5-15% alcohol by volume) mean it can pair well with multiple foods. The following common food recommendation goes well with a Pinot Noir, even if you have an average vintage.
- Meat Pairings: turkey, lamb, and pork ribs
- Mushroom dishes, including mushroom pizza
- Cheese: brie and gouda
With the right food pairings, your dining experience will be memorable. Slowing your drinking while eating is one way to reduce alcohol consumption.
Pinot Noir Acidity: Two Ways To Talk about Acidity
The acidity level in a bottle of wine will depend on several factors. The acidity of wine may be influenced by geography (e.g., coastal wines vs. non-coastal wines) and climate. Pinot Noir from warmer climates usually tastes different from wines from cooler climates.
The Scientific Way To Measure Acidity
In scientific terms, acidity in wines is measured with the pH scale. For context, water has a pH of 7, while lemon juice has a pH of 2 (i.e., a mouthwatering acidity). The pH score of Pinot Noir wines is 3.7-4.0 pH on average.
For most of us, knowing the PH level in different bottles of wine isn’t that helpful. That’s why we will look at a different way of describing acidic flavor in wine next.
High, Medium, and Low: The Traditional Approach to Wine Acidity
Like acidity levels in other wines, Pinot Noir acidity is usually described with a simple scale: low, medium, and high. Some bottles of wine will get a more nuanced description like “medium-low.” On average, Pinot Noir is a popular grape that usually has a high level of acidity.
To put this information in context, let’s compare Pinot Noir to other wine grape varieties, including white and red wines.
White Wine Acidity Examples
White wines are often described as high-acid wines, though there is a lot of variation. Enjoying a high-acidity white wine on sunny afternoons is a beautiful experience because the wine tends to be quite refreshing.
- Sauvignon Blanc: high acidity
- Pinot Gris: medium to medium plus
- Riesling: high acidity (though late harvest Riesling wine tastes sweeter due to higher sugar content)
- Chardonnay: lower acidity compared to other white wines
Red Wines Acidity Examples
Red wine lovers usually focus on alcohol levels, oak aging (e.g., French oak barrels vs. American oak), and tannins (e.g., refined tannins vs. silky tannins). However, acidity levels also influence a wine’s taste.
- Merlot: medium acidity
- Cabernet Sauvignon: medium acidity
- Shiraz: medium acidity levels
- Malbec: typically low acidity, but French Malbec tends to have higher acidity.
- Pinot Meunier: this grape has higher acidity. It is one of the permitted grapes in France’s famous sparkling wines made in the Champagne wine region.
Pinot Noir Acidity In Summary
Acid content is a fundamental aspect of Pinot Noir. Without good acidity, Pinot Noir can’t have the complex notes and luscious flavors that make the wine well-loved. Taking a moment to appreciate a glass of wine doesn’t have to stop there. You can also admire the deep ruby color of the wine and its vibrant aromas.