Tasting Exercise: Tannin Levels

My goal while learning about different wines is to become proficient in all of the aspects of tasting.  There are a plethora of tasting exercises that can be completed to help accomplish this goal.  This week I will be focusing on learning about tannin levels in wine.

* There are basically two different types of tannins: grape and oak.  Grape tannins are generally sensed in the forward portion of the mouth during and after tasting the wine.  Oak tannins are generally sensed in the back portion of the mouth on the finish.  Grape tannins are generally more dramatic in their varying levels.

* Pour a young, unoaked AOP Beaujolais versus a young, unoaked Barolo.  Try side by side in a blind fashion.

* Add a NW Syrah to the flight. Try side by side in a blind fashion five times.  There should be a low, a medium and a high tannin level.  Repeat five days in a row.

* Try a high quality Russian River Pinot Noir, Sonoma Valley Merlot and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in the same manner.  All three should have oak tannins.  Try to determine the grape tannin levels versus the oak tannin levels.  Then, take an overall impression of grape and oak tannins combined.  Determine the final tannin level.

* If you are having issues, steep one tea bag for thirty seconds (low tannin) and one for five minutes (high tannin).  Taste and cement impressions.