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Tannin Eraser


  • Lindemanns 1997 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)
  • Bonny Doon Vineyards Cigare Volant

Try This

  • Take a sip of the Bonny Doon wine and notice how it feels in the mouth. Is there any bitterness to it? Now try the Coonawarra Cabernet. Does the second wine feel different in your mouth? Does one wine taste fruitier or lighter than the other?
  • Now, nibble on some bread topped with blue cheese. Try the Cabernet again. Does it taste or feel different in your mouth?

What's Going On?

The Australian Cabernet is higher in tannins, compounds whose concentration varies from grape to grape. Tannins are also present in wine stems and seeds and in the barrels used to age wines. Tannins can give a wine body; people sometimes describe these wines as “big.” When drunk young, high-tannin wines have a drying effect in your mouth. These wines can make it seem like your teeth have sweaters on them; the tannin is reacting with your saliva to create a compound that sticks to your teeth.

Tannins are considered desirable in wines that are meant to be aged; over time, the tannins soften and add to the complexity of a well-aged red wine. For wines you intend to drink right away, too much tannin can be harsh.

Certain foods, especially ones with a high fat content like blue cheese, can counteract the tannin in wine and make them easier to drink. The fat in the cheese coats your mouth, keeping the tannin compounds from reacting with saliva and sticking to your teeth.

Some people confuse tannin and acidity in wine. It’s easy to tell the difference if you swish the wine between your gums and teeth. Tannin tends to dry your mouth out and put a coating on your teeth, while acid makes your mouth water.

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