Tasting Exercise: Tannins

I read a wonderful article in Food and Wine Magazine last Autumn about different tasting procedures you can go through to help yourself understand the different properties of wine tasting.  I wanted to save these exercises and the wines used to go through them with friends in the future.


Tannins are found in grape skins, seeds and stems.  They contribute to the wine’s structure, complexity, texture and ability to age.  They are most prevalent in red wines.

Tannins create a drying and somewhat bitter sensation in your mouth, typically toward the back of the tongue.

Food Pairing

Tannic wines pair especially well with rich foods and substantial meat dishes because they cut through fat.  Fat also softens the perception of tannin.


Tasting Exercise

Equipment: 3 mugs, 3 black tea bags, hot water

Pour 8 ounces of hot water and one tea bag into each mug.  After 2 minutes, remove the bag from the first mug. After 4 minutes, remove the bag from the second mug. After 8 minutes, remove the bag from the third mug.  Let the tea cool.

Taste the teas in increasing steep time order, swishing the liquid around in your mouth before swallowing.  Notice how the teas are more astringent as the steeping time increases.


The following wines will help illustrate the concept of tannin.  A type of wine is listed, followed by a specific vintage and brand that would work well. Each are listed in order from least to most tannic.

* Beaujolais (2010 Potel Aviron Cote de Brouilly)

* California Merlot (2009 Simi Sonoma County Merlot)

* Bordeaux (2010 Chateau Bellevue Bordeaux Superieur)

The wines in parenthesis were not necessarily the wines I found and used when first doing this experiment. They are wines suggested in Food and Wine Magazine. I used the ones I could find locally and if I could not find the specific brand they recommended or didn’t have the budget for the one they recommended, I used one that fit their category. I did these exercises before starting this blog so unfortunately I did not record each brand and vintage I used.

Other Tasting Exercises



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