I have a hard time distinguishing between tannins and acids. I drink a lot of Italian reds, definately some acidity there, but I can't pick between the two. Any suggestions?
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They are both "hard" components, so they can be easy to confuse. To differentiate the two components, consider their associated mouthfeels.

Acids leave your mouth refreshed, sometimes salivating. Think of biting into a lemon and the sensation that lemon leaves in your mouth.

Tannins usually dry out your mouth as if you were using tanning/drying out hides. Think of the furry feeling left in your mouth after sipping strong-brewed tea.

After you sip wine, pay attention to the mouthfeel. Hope that helps.

Not that the varietal will be the same, but compare red wine to white wine. White wines often have prominent acidity with almost virtually no detectable tannins whereas red wines have both.
Not a bad idea at all if you can find a White Zen that’s made more like a Rose' than the usual high resid. sugar/low acidity content of most White Zens. But I don’t know of any. Buehler makes both a Zin and a White Zin and may be less sweet - but I haven’t had the White Zin.
I would note also that tannins tend to be profoundly tasted on the insides of the cheeks near your tongue (or at least mine).
Acidity to me, is more of a tongue thing.
Tannin: Find a grape that has a seed, or grab a stem from a seedless grape. Chew.


Acid: Get a lemon. Bite fruit.


I know some will disagree, but there is also a difference in tannins. Natural fruit tannins are usually felt mostly in back of tongue but not as much in cheeks. Oak tannins/wood tannins are more drying, astringent and are really strongly felt in the cheek.

And tannins are actually an acid as well, which explains where it might be hard to differentiate the fruit tannins from natural acidity.
(Tannin is really a generic name for large molecules with a central core of tannic acid. I won't bore you with the chemistry lesson.)

And what PH said, get some fresh grapes and chew the stem. Tannins (akin to fruit tannins).
As for wood tannins, I don't recommend chewing an oak stave. Big Grin Razz

And let's not get started on the different types of acids.
Great suggestion about chomping grapes from PH and chem 101 from carriedca (and not chomping wood staves).

And we haven't even gotten into the different quality of tannins found in wine and their associated mouthfeels, which include fine-grained, chewey and rough and...

Fortunately, there's always more tasting -- uhhh..., homework -- to be done.

My suggestion for these questions is usually to go to a local brewing/winemaking supply store. They'll have tartaric and citric acid, grape tannins, oak chips, fructose, and really anything else you might need. Find a neutral wine and add the various components until you're able to discern between them.

Acid, sour components, and tannins all have the same feeling on the tongue, to me anyway; it's how my overall palate reacts that lets me know what's in balance. Acids never leave me with a cloying feeling, but too much tannins will. Sour is the worse as it dominates the entire palate.

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