What is a tannin?

What is a tannin and why are people obsessed with the tannins in wine? Before I knew anything about wine, tannins confused me more than everything else about wine combined. Is it a flavor? Do they add it to the wine? Is it good or bad?

Tannin is a compound naturally found in plants (like, you know, red grapes). Tannins are bitter, often described as astringent or dry. If a wine leaves you puckering, it’s a sure bet that it’s tannic. You know that puckery feeling you get when you drink oversteeped tea? That’s tannin.

You get tannin in wine from the grape skins. Some grapes are naturally more tannic than others; Cabernet Sauvignon has a very thick skin, which means it grows well in most climates, but also that it has a lot of tannin. Pinot Noir, on the other hand, has very thin skin, which means it’s delicate to grow and has very little tannin. Aging wine in oak barrels also imparts tannins; the longer you have wine in oak, the more tannic the wine.

It can be both good and bad. Overly tannic wine is not a pleasant taste or sensation, but it mellows out over time. Puckery tannins become soft and smooth as the wine ages in bottle, leaving it with fully body, structure, and a long finish. Wines with little tannin can be weak and flavorless. In short, you want a wine with enough tannin to give the wine structure or allow it to age, but not so much that it makes you look like you just bit into a lemon.

A handy infographic for you! This is a very rough guide of wines with the most to least tannins; it will vary because of climate, regions, aging, etc, but this is a little shortcut for those of you new to wine.

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Photo by David Wilbanks via fotopedia.

Around the Web

This blog post really hit home with me this week. Usually my browsing-the-internet mental energy is level 3, but starting my own blog has rocketed it up to a level 1. It’s fun and rewarding, but a very different way of engaging with the internet.

Other things I’ve found online this week:

More reasons why red wine is good for you! Wine Spectator reports that studies suggest red wine helps with digestion. Also, that this is why the French are so thin. I was hoping it was the blue cheese.

I am not crafty, but I have a lot of extra corks laying around. If I were better at DIY projects, I would make everything from this blog post. Especially the wine cork bathmat; that would spiff up my bathroom for sure!

Or I would make this, all the corks are from “wine consumed humanely in California”. Actually, I think I will never have enough DIY talent to make one of these. I should probably just buy one.

Okay, we’re on a roll with reusing corks, so here is a list of Eleven Ways to Reuse and Recycle Wine Corks.

If you spill wine the way I do (which is all the time, on everything), here is a guide to removing wine stains.

Aaaand finally, if you are sick of wine (impossible!), here is a cool infographic of 30 shot recipes.

True Story: White Chardonnay

I was pouring at an event put on by a local organization, largely very pleasant people who were mostly non-wine drinkers. One of the less pleasant people came up to the bar, inspected the wine we were pouring, and pompously asked, “Is that a white Chardonnay?”

I really hate to judge people who don’t know about wine, because I get it. Not everyone knows about wine. But I do, in my heart of hearts, judge people who pretend that they know a lot about wine and act pompous about it.

A Lesson to Take Away: Chardonnay is always white and please be polite to your servers.

Four Red Wines You Must Know to Look Knowledgeable

Okay, so you probably know that there’s red wine and there’s white wine. You may also know that there are different kinds of grapes out there beyond red and white, and they each have distinct flavors and characteristics.

Here is your cheat sheet to the four red grapes that will get you through most conversations about wine!

 

Merlot is probably the most popular red in the United States. continue reading

Around the Web

I’ve finished my first week of blogging! It takes a lot of work and editing for comma errors and worrying that it’s not good enough to put online for real people to really read. I found this helpful while getting started!

In other internet news, this is some stuff I’ve found this week!

For those of us with patience, but no money, aging cheap wine is the way to go!

I really like making cocktails, and my attempt at a ginger-peach rum punch fell a little flat. Next time, I’ll just make these delicious looking Winter Sun cocktails! Or these Lavender Vodka Tonics!

Don’t be that guest who shows up empty-handed; bring a hostess gift. It’s classy and your friends will love you.

Augghh I love bread, and this recipe is SO EASY.

We’ll talk about wine and food pairing eventually in this blog- for now, here is a handy chart.

Go drink some wine this weekend!

What I’m Drinking

I’m drinking Kerloo Cellars 2009 Temperanillo! This is a bottle my boyfriend got for free (people love giving him free wine; I still haven’t learned his secret…maybe a code word I need to know?) Kerloo’s 2009 Temperanillo is sold out now, but they have a 2010 Temperanillo for sale, which I haven’t yet tried. Their Temperanillo isn’t crazy unreasonable in price, but maybe a little more than new drinkers are willing to spend. It will run you $34, which I think is a good value for this wine.

Well balanced earth and fruit, bright flavors, and not too spicy for a Temperanillo; this is a wine that goes well with food. It tasted even better the second day it was open! The grapes come from Wahluke Slope and Walla Walla.

Pair it with: Butternut Squash Risotto

Check them out online for information about the winery or to order wine!

So you want to learn about wine

Have you ever stared at a wine list at a restaurant in bewilderment until you finally just point to something so you have a drink?

Have you ever struggled through a conversation with a wine snob, trying not to make a fool of yourself by admitting you know nothing about wine except the words “merlot” and “chardonnay”?

Do you browse the wine aisle of the store and pick out cheap bottles based on the labels alone?

If any of this is familiar, then this is the blog for you.
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