When I taste a dry, non-sparkling white wine, I sometimes get a fizzy sensation. What is that?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

When I taste a dry, non-sparkling white wine, I sometimes get a fizzy sensation. What is that?

—John, Milford, Mich.

Dear John,

You might be describing acidity, which is something you feel rather than taste. Acidity can feel mouthwatering, puckering or biting, and I have heard it described as feeling like Pop Rocks on your tongue. Think of a squirt of lemon, or the sensation of biting into a green apple—those have a lot of acidity. You’ll notice acidity more in white wines than in reds (where you will notice tannins more prominently).

It's also possible that you're experiencing some light effervescence, or spritz—a little bit of carbonation that can result intentionally or by accident when a wine hasn't fully completed fermenting before it's bottled. Effervescence is a popular characteristic of Portugal's Vinho Verde dry whites, and winemakers will sometimes even introduce a bit of CO2 to achieve that effect. But spritz can also be a flaw, if it's the result of an accidental secondary fermentation that occurred in the bottle.

—Dr. Vinny

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