Smooth red wine
More than once, in a store or a restaurant, you’ll have heard someone ask for a smooth red wine. Or, perhaps you yourself have used the expression, especially when you were starting out in wine consumption. But what are we talking about when we talk about smooth wine?
We usually refer to smooth red wines when we talk about those that are neither acidic nor tannic, that is to say, wines that do not show sharp edges that stand out or bother us when they pass through our palate, wines that are round, juicy, easy to appreciate and, in short, easy to drink.
In fact, with the expression what we’re seeking to describe, in a quick and easy way, is what we don’t want a wine to contain: that it shouldn’t be acidic, bitter or too harsh. Smooth wines are wines that also serve as an initiation, to be drunk and enjoyed without thinking too much.
What influences the smoothness of a red wine?
Tannins in wine come from grapes and are found in the stems of each bunch, in the skin and seeds of each grape. Red wines, where the must remains in contact with the grape skins for a longer period of time, contain more tannins than white wines. Aging in wood also contributes tannins to the wine. The more tannins, the more astringency and bitterness. Tannins contribute to a better aging of the wine during its maturation and give it greater complexity, body and structure and, fortunately, with the passage of time and good aging, tannins become more polished, sweeter, giving rise to silkier and more elegant wines.
In young red wines, the excessive presence of tannins can make them more difficult to drink, contributing more bitterness and harshness.
However, talking about low acidity and lack of tannic structure in a fine red wine can even be a negative factor. In this case, we could say that they’re round, silky, velvety wines, where there’s a balance between the factors that make a wine be qualified as a smooth wine, among them, its tannins.
Sweetness helps to reduce the sensation of acidity in a wine. In addition, a bit of sweetness helps mask the presence of unpolished tannins. Wines made from ripe grapes with a little residual sugar to smooth out any rough edges they might have are more pleasant on the palate and therefore smoother to drink .
There are those for whom a smooth wine is synonymous with a wine with low alcohol content. An excess of alcohol, although it adds density to the drink, can cause a feeling of extreme warmth that many may not find pleasant. Wines from cool climate or high altitude vineyards tend to be less alcoholic and therefore, in this respect, softer on the palate.
Choice of varieties
We already know that it’s difficult to know whether a wine is very acidic or tannic without having tasted it, and that the perception of the intensity of acidity can vary from one palate to another. However, we can give you clues to choose a soft red wine from the varieties it’s made with.
There are grapes which due to their varietal characteristics give rise to wines that are lighter and more agreeable on the palate. Two good examples are the red varieties Pinot Noir and Gamay which are usually grown in cooler climates, so they don’t produce a hot sensation in the throat, as they don’t generate too much alcohol. The Pinot Noir grape produces wines with a low color depth (very light red color) so they don’t contain excess tannins that can bother the palate. On the other hand,wines made from the Gamay variety, such as Beaujolais Nouveau, are very fruity and juicy, making them very accessible to the palate. Grenache wines are booming, as they offer soft and fruity flavors, roundness and great aromatic intensity.
Soft red wines, those with a pleasant balance between acidity, bitterness and astringency, are not only easy-to-drink wines, intended for those who are just starting out in the world of wine. They’re versatile wines that tend to please everyone and that we can easily find at a very affordable price (another point in their favor). Therefore, they’re the perfect way to share a glass of wine for the purpose of enjoyment.