Soft vs Acidic Wine

Are you curious what makes a wine “soft” or “acidic”? Maybe you’ve heard a wine you’ve shared with a friend described as one of the two. Or, maybe you’ve described a wine that way…without really understanding if it’s true (don’t worry – you’re among friends here).

Well, we’ll help you dial in your understanding of the differences between wines described as such. That way, you can use these descriptors confidently going forward. And, ultimately, know which you prefer between soft vs acidic wine.

How can I tell if a wine is soft or acidic?

Soft is typically used used to describe wines without much tannin or acidity. These wines will often taste smooth, as they won’t have the bite of acidic or tannic wines.

Conversely, acidic wines will commonly result in a mouth-watering reaction from the drinker. This is most easily detected under the tongue when drinking acidic wine.

What makes the wine taste this way?

Since we now know what to expect when drinking a soft or acidic wine. How do these wines end up tasting so differently? Well, to understand that let’s review a few of the key components of wine construct.

Wine Tannin

Soft wines typically lack much tannic features. So, what is tannin in wine?

Tannins are often described in wine as a drying sensation or mouthfeel when drinking it. Tannins typically come from the skin, seeds, and stems of the grapes. Therefore, tannic notes in wine can be heavily influenced by the winemaker’s technique.

For example, if a wine producer allows the skins, seeds, or stems to spend additional time with the grape juice, then this could result in more tannic features of a wine.

If you don’t like dryer wines, then you can request “less tannic” wines from your local wine shop, and they’ll be happy to steer you in the right direction.

Fruit & the Weather

Grape growth and development depends largely on the weather and conditions they experience. Typically, warmer weather with plentiful sunshine will result in ripe, rich, big fruit flavors. However, colder weather conditions can prevent grapes from ripening as much, and often result in more acidic notes in wine.

This is why, as a general rule of thumb, you can expect wine produced from colder temperature regions to have more acidity than wine from warmer regions. The wine game is known for its nuance, and this rule is no exception. You will find acidic wines from warm regions and vice versa.


Soft vs acidic wine – which do you prefer?

Now that you know more about what makes soft wine so smooth and drinkable or why you prefer mouth-watering acidic wines; use that knowledge.

At your favorite restaurant or wine shop, use the wine knowledge gained to request a bottle like a pro…or semi-pro, at least.

See if the server or wine shop associate can help you find both a medium tannic wine from Washington State and a soft red from the South Central Valley of California. Try them both, and see if you can pick out the components of both that differentiate them from one another.

Most importantly, use the knowledge to find more of the wine that you enjoy. Cheers!