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Chez MishaLee: Let's Talk Wine

Time:2018-11-05 21:48wine - Red wine life health Click:

Talk Wine Chez MishaLee

Wine Words



For many of us the vocabulary used to describe wine is unfamiliar. Often, we may be intimidted by not knowing the "politically correct" word to describe what we are tasting in a particular glass of wine.


No Worries! Wine words is here to help.


Let's start with two that confused me for a long time until I began a little experiment at one of my favoirte local wine clubs...the Galleon.

What does it mean when someone says that red wines have alot of tannin? Or for that matter, anything about tannin. And someone else comments on the acidity. Isn't that the same thing?

Well, not exactly and, yes and no... so here goes:


Acidity: Acidity is a substance that makes wine taste sharp but also contributes to the bouquet and brilliance as well as structure of the wine. Can have too much or too little. When a wine has too little acidity, it is often described as “flat” and lacks structure. In other words, it doesn't create a sparkle in the eye of the beholder. When a wine has too little sugar and too much acidity, it is often tart or sour tasting. Acids also affect the color of the wine. In red wine, the most acidity is bright red. As the color mellows to purple then bluish, the acidity mellows with it. When you drink white wine, you notice the tart, zingy flavor that makes your tongue salivate a little but this usually has a citrusy taste, nice and refreshing in the lighter summer wines. When you drink red wine, you might have a tart feeling, too (the acid), but what you most notice is a drying, puckery feeling that seems to roll down the middle of your tongue and coat your mouth. The wine feels complex. That’s the tannins in the red wine. Now let's look at tannins more closely...


Tannin: Tanninsadd dryness and astringency (like witch hazel, but I don't recommend tasting it! ) They provide structure and backbone to the wine . Tannin comes from the seeds, stems, skins, and the barrels. Dark grapes with thick skins have more tannin than grapes with thin skins. Hence, more tannin in red wine as it is made from the whole grape and sometimes the stems too. White wines on the otherhand, most often are made from the grape and not the skins or stems. Smaller grapes have more tannins than bigger grapes and wine that uses more stems in the fermentation process has more tannin than those that don't. The way you usually identify tannins in the wine is by its mouth drying effect, ah, the astringency! It's a mouth feel, not a taste. Certain foods, especially ones with a high fat content like blue cheese, can counteract or balance the tannin in wine and make them easier to drink. That's why food pairing are inmportant and some wines can be pleasant without food while othes blossom with a good food pairing. Pairings can be versatile and experimentation is always encouraged. Just remember the basics of balance. Tannins are considered desirable in wines that are meant to be aged; because over time, the tannins soften and add to the complexity of a well-aged red wine.


The Take Home Message: Balance

** the less tannic a wine is, the more acidity it can support
** the higher a red wine is in tannins, the lower should be its acidity

Now, go forth and experiment with a couple of red wines with tomato based food pairings and a white or two just for contrast! Remeber...have fun and taste responsibly!


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