Understanding Wine Jargon: Acidity and Tannin - Personal Wine Gifts and News

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Wine Education

Understanding Wine Jargon: Acidity and Tannin

Sounding like a pro means understanding the basic characteristics of wine. Once you can recognize these characteristics, then you will know exactly what kind of wine you like. Don’t worry, we know you like them all!

Tannin. What is that?

Derived from the pips, skins, and stalks of the grapes, tannin is vitally important if a wine is intended to age. The best way to recognize tannin in wine is by a furring of the mouth or puckering of the gums. In other words, tannin makes your tongue dry out and after you swallow, there is a lingering bitter or dry feeling on the palate.

Tannins are more important to the aging of red wines rather than white. They act as a preservative, and as they fade over many years, the primary fruit flavors have time to develop into the more complex flavors that are found in fine, aged wines.

Ideally, a level of tannins that is sufficient enough to provide structure, but doesn’t dominate the palate means that the wine is ready for drinking. Boy, do we like drinking the wine!

Tannin Descriptive Words

Abrasive, assertive, astringent, biting, blistering, gravelly, green, gritty, jagged, melting, puckery, raspy, rough, smooth, and viperous. You can definitely get creative here!

Acidity: Yes, it’s a good thing!

Often confused with the taste of higher alcohol, acidity is a requirement in wine. Acidity can be detected by the sharpness of the wine in the mouth, specifically around the edges of the tongue near the front. Too little acidity, and the wine will seem dull and flabby, while too much, the wine will be sharp, harsh, and undrinkable.

Higher acidity denotes a wine from a cooler region, such as Northern France, England, or New Zealand. Lower acidity wines typically come from warmer regions, such as Australia. Volatile acids, in small amounts, can lift the flavors in the wine, but too much, and the wine begins to resemble acetone or vinegar.

Acidity Descriptive Words

Acetic, brisk, brutal, crisp, edgy, lively, mouthwatering, pungent, racy, refreshing, searing, snappy, sprightly, stinging, tangy, vibrant, zesty, and zippy. Let’s see what you can come up with!

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