Zen Breath 3-2-1

Note: You are receiving this email because you subscribed to my weekly 3-2-1 newsletter or you subscribed to the Koi Zen Cellars newsletter. Every Friday, I share 3 wine terms, 2 quotes from me, and 1 question for you to ponder. Occasionally, I also send out long-form articles on habits and self-improvement.

" You can only lose what you cling to"
~ The Zen Winemaker ~

3 terms, 2 quotes, 1 question

November 19, 2021

Happy Friday! Time to wrap up this week and get ready for the next! Take a deep breath and kick off the weekend on a positive note. Let's consider where we have been, improve it, and move forward next week. Packing the most content into the least words and trying to change the world, one glass at a time.

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3 - Wine Terms - Acids in wine

Wine chemistry is very complicated and today we will talk about one of the main components of wine and that is the types of acids found in wine. Wine is a food product with an amazing quality of being shelf stable for decades without pasteurization or refrigeration.

Biologically speaking, wine is a very hostile environment for spoilage microbes. It is nutrient deficient, alcoholic, anaerobic (lacking oxygen), low pH, and very acidic; while this is bad for microbes, it is great for longevity and our enjoyment.

There are three main types of acid in wine and each plays a very important part both in the vineyard, during winemaking, in the bottle, and on the palate. Acids on the palate make the wine taste tart, refreshing, bright, and will cause you to salivate. Winemakers measure the acidity of wine in both pH (how strong the acid is) and TA (the Total Acidity measuring how much acid there is).

Wines with low pH will often have a blue cast to them.
  1. Tartaric Acid - this is the main type of acid found in grapes and wine, while citrus fruits contain mostly citric acid. Tartaric acid help stabilize the wine and preserve it freshness, color, and texture. Tartaric acid is at its highest concentration when the berry are unripe and help deter animals from consuming the fruit when the seeds are immature. As the fruit ripens, the berries plump up reducing the concentration level, or more precisely the TA.
  2. Malic Acid - the second mot predominant type of acid in wine is Malic acid. The word malic comes from the Latin word meaning 'apple.' Malic acid does taste like a green tart apple. While this is appealing in many white wines, most red wines, the winemaker will induce Malolactic Fermentation, of MLF. This is a bacterial process that converts some of the Malic acid (tart apple) into Lactic acid (milky) which helps smooth out the wine wine and increase mouthfeel.

    As the grapes mature, the vines will respirate at night and consume Malic acid as a fuel source; the hotter the night, the more acids will be consumed which can lead to the wine tasting flabby or flat. Places like Paso Robles get very cold at night and this preserves the acidity in the grapes - this is one of the reasons I love Paso fruit.

    If Chardonnay goes through MLF, it will also produce diacetyl which has an artificial butter flavor. The more malic acid the wine starts with, the more pronounced the butter flavor will be. Some winemakers will add inordinate amounts of malic acid prior to MLF to create those butter bombs.
  3. Lactic Acid - is the softest of the acids in wine and is associated with 'milky' or yogurt flavors. This soft acid adds a creaminess, fullness, or roundness to wines. In red wines, which go through MLF, the tartness green apple taste will be replaced with a much smoother wine.

    Winemakers will also let the wine sit on the lees, dead yeast cells, to encourage the MLF bacterial process to help round off the wine.
There are other acids in trace amounts in wine including citric acid (citrus taste), acetic acid (vinegar), and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to name a few.

Takeaway : Acids make you salivate while Tannins dry you out.

2 - Quotes from Me:

1. "Better to try and fail, then never try at all." ~ The Zen Winemaker

2. "The opposite of being mindful is being absent minded." ~ The Zen Winemaker

1 - Question to ponder:

Wine and Mindfulness

I teach a lot of people the Zen Steps of wine tasting, and I you want an in-depth description, I encourage you to pick up a copy of one of my books, " The Zen Wine Tasting Journal - Life is too short to drink bad wine, or to wear ugly underwear.' on Amazon or at the winery - it makes great gifts also.

But the main thing I try to stress is to become mindful when you taste wine. Doing this will astronomically enhances your tasting experience. The problem I see is that we all tend not to be very mindful most of the time. In other words we are either on autopilot or absent minded.

We continually race towards the next thing and ignore the now thing. Becoming aware of this tendency takes us a long way towards being mindful and a great way to practice being mindful is with a glass of wine.

So to start, grab yourself a glass of wine (when it is appropriate, though our soon to be released sparkling is a great breakfast wine)

The first thing I would like you to do is take a good long look at the wine in the glass. Does it look thin or thick, heavy or light, white or red? Hold it over a white surface and get a good gander at it. Swirl it and watch how the legs form and move. Take a good 20-30 seconds and become visually engaged with the wine.

Next, smell it. Stick your nose in deep and take a few quick sniffs. Stick your nose in it and take a long draw, notice any differences. What do you smell? Is it fruit, vegetative, oak, or alcohol? Do you smell flowers or dirt? Take your time and understand it. Swirl, you can never swirl too much. Sniff and think for 20-30 seconds.

Now pour about 1/2 tablespoon in your mouth and swirl it around for 5 seconds before swallowing. Give your whole mouth the opportunity to taste the wine. Is it cold or warm? Thin or thick? Is it smooth or rough? Feel the acidity and the tannins. What do you taste? How does it make you feel? What do you think about it? Become one with it because you just have, it has become part of you. Do this a few times to really understand the wine.

Now take a few moments to let your mouth settle down and then take another sip and evaluate the finish. Is it pleasant, quick, or long? Doe it invite you to take another sip? And then put all of your thoughts together - did you like it or not? What would it pair with, or when would you serve this wine?

How was your experience?


How would your life change if you became this Mindful in every task you did?

~~ Notice ~~




Darius Miller - The Zen Winemaker

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Author of a #1 best seller:
'The Zen Winemaker - Follow Your Dreams & Overcome Your Fears'

Creator of:

'The Zen Wine Tasting Journal - Life is too short to drink bad wine, or to wear ugly underwear.'

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