March 27 2012
A colleague innocently offered me a sweet today known as the 'Cherry Sour'. There was a little verbal warning shot which I ignored, and tucked straight in. I am a Campari drinker (we seem to be a dying breed, most people usually ask 'What's That!?' and pull a face on tasting it), so am not shy of bitter flavours.
I popped in the dusty red ball. My face automatically pulled various contortions I did not know were possible. They were really sour. You have to endure the pain of a bitter coating before breaking through to the calming boiled cherry sweet beneath. Wow, that was quite something.
This sourness is the effect of two acids in the ingredients - citric and malic. Drives your taste buds crazy. As an aside this is where a new miracle fruit called Richadella dulcifica
would come in handy. Eat this first and sour becomes sweet, the perfect antidote.
The timing of this boiled sweet was appropriate, as I has just read a story about tartaric acid in wine. It turns out that red wine (specifically Beaujolais) can turn iron telluride into a superconductor
due to its high tartaric acid content..
Am I losing you? It all sounds very 'sciency'. A superconductor is not a superhero that works the London night bus, and I will not dedicate blog space to rewording some perfectly good explanation on a physics site
. It is just impressive that one of my favourite tipples can do something wholly unexpected. How would you make such a discovery? Do you think the scientists were drinking wine when they accidentally spilt some? After all Alexander Flemming managed to discover penicillin due to a contaminated experiment.
Tartaric acid is one on the main acids in wine and helps balance, stability and colour. It is a common acid in grape vines but not present in most plants. It can cause the little pale crystals you often seen on the cork. Some of the other fixed acids in wine (there are many) include malic and citric (back to our Cherry Sour) which are much more common in other plants.
Balance is a critical property of acid in wine. Too much and your face will be as screwed up as mine whilst eating a simple sweet.
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