Oleksyn: Invigorate your palate with these bright, high-acid wines

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Are you an acid freak?

I don’t mean an LSD-dropping, tie-dye-clad Grateful Dead fan. In the wine world, acid freaks love the invigorating feel of acid on the palate.

Acid is one of the key elements of wine, along with tannin, body, sugar and alcohol. Acid dances on your tongue. It breathes life and vitality into wine, keeping things fresh while balancing the weight of alcohol, the sweetness of sugar and the dryness of tannin. It also helps wines age.

A few different things affect a wine’s acid level. First is the grape variety. Every grape has a different innate acidity. The ripeness of the grape when it is picked also plays a role. As grapes ripen, their acidity drops and sugar levels rise. Soil type can also influence acidity.

Generally, cooler climate wine regions — such as Canada — create wines with higher acid levels. In warmer wine regions, it is not unusual to add acid to the wine mix to counter the sweetness of overripe, high-sugar grapes.


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If you want to give your palate a jolt, look for white wines made from riesling, sauvignon blanc, gruner veltliner, albarino, assyrtiko, chenin blanc or melon de Bourgogne — the grape used in the making of Muscadet in France’s Loire Valley. Unoaked chardonnay, particularly from the Kimmeridgean soil of Chablis, also has distinct acidity. Champagne is high-acid because the grapes are picked earlier than normal.

High-acid red wines include sangiovese, pinot noir, gamay, barbera and nebbiolo.

Dip your tongue into a glass of sparkles with these vibrant wines.

Gruber Roschitz


Gruner Veltliner

Weinviertel, Austria

The Gruber family has been making wine in Roschitz, in northern Austria, since 1814, though most of it was consumed privately. Luckily for us, they started selling to the public about 50 years ago.

Now run by siblings Ewald, Maria and Christian, the organic winery produces wines that pop. Maybe the magic comes from the wine spirits pictured on their labels. Since going organic in 2013, they say their grapes ripen earlier and produce less sugar — two positive things for fresh-tasting wines.

Look for flavours of lemon, lime, apricot, pear, orange, pea shoots and a bit of wax or honey. The soft acid raises the fruit and carries it through a long finish.

Price: About $23. Look for it at Ace Liquor, Bin 905, Craft Cellars, Crowfoot Wine & Spirits, Eastport Liquor Store, Highfield Liquor, Highlander Wine and Spirits, J. Webb Wine Merchant, Kensington Wine Market, Rocky Mountain Wine Spirits Beer, Spirits West in Bragg Creek, Vine Arts, Vine Styles, Willow Park Wines & Spirits and Wine and Beyond at Sage Hill Crossing.


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Drink: Now. It would pair well with an Asian curry, Chinese takeout, a spring salad or wiener schnitzel. Screw Cap; 12.5 per cent alc./vol.



Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand

Kevin Judd, owner and winemaker at Greywacke, produces vibrant, sophisticated wines that leave you wanting more. The founding winemaker at Marlborough’s iconic Cloudy Bay, Judd left the winery and started Greywacke with his wife Kimberley in 2009.

Judd uses select grapes from mature vineyards through the Marlborough region for this sauvignon blanc, which delivers flavours of lemon, lime, passionfruit, gooseberry and guava. It’s fresh and not overwhelmingly pungent; the finish is long and bright.

Price: About $30. Look for it at Aspen Wine and Spirits, Bin 905, Cap Liquor, Co-op Wines Spirits Beer, Craft Cellars, Highlander Wine and Spirits, Liquor Depot, Market Wines, Northmount Liquor Store, Rocky Mountain Wine Spirits Beer, Silver Springs Liquor Store, Sobeys Liquor, Spirits West in Bragg Creek, Urban Cellars, Willow Park Wines & Spirits and Zyn the Wine Market.

Drink: In the next year or two. Enjoy it with a spring salad, pasta primavera or pad Thai. Screwcap; 13.5 per cent alc./vol.

Jim Barry Wines



Clare Valley, Australia

Jim Barry Wines is one of the top wineries in Australia’s Clare Valley, a small region about 150 kilometres north of Adelaide that’s known for producing some of the country’s best rieslings.


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Peter Barry, the third-generation winemaker at the family winery, added the Greek grape Assyrtiko to their lineup after becoming enamoured with the white grape in 2006 during a Greek vacation on the island of Santorini.

He ended up importing cuttings from Greece and planting them in 2012. The results have been impressive. The nose is similar to riesling, with lemon, lime, white blossoms and a hint of diesel. The palate boasts explosive acidity and vibrant citrus flavours of lime, lemon and grapefruit, with flint notes and a magical long finish. The acidity softy lingers and tantalizes the tongue.

Price: About $35. Look for it at Co-op Wines Spirits Beer at Beddington Trail, Craft Cellars, Eastport Liquor Store and Willow Park Wines & Spirits.

Drink: In the next five years. Enjoy this with roast chicken, lobster or oysters on the half shell. Screwcap; 12.5 per cent alc./vol.

Contact Darren Oleksyn at dm.oleksyn@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter or Instagram. Looking for a specific wine? Because wine inventories are always in flux, it’s a good idea to call a store to confirm they have it. A search on Liquorconnect.com can give you an idea of stores that have carried the wines.

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