If you’re just getting into wine, you’re finding out that there is a LOT of information to assimilate and some steep learning to do. Some of it, like figuring out the grape varieties and the major wine regions and the top producers, isn’t so bad, because it primarily just involves drinking a lot. But other stuff, like the never-ending list of vocabulary that goes into describing a wine, is a lot trickier and can often become a barrier that increases the intimidation factor of wine to the point where many people decide it’s not worth the effort.
For me, one of the terms in the wine glossary that I had the most trouble with was tannin. Every wine review you see (including my own reviews below) makes reference to a particular bottle’s smooth, silky, bitter, soft, graceful, harsh or (stop me anytime) aggressive tannins…I had no idea what any of this meant until a couple years ago, well after I had started buying wine regularly. Since it turns out that tannin is one of the basic building blocks of red wine and something that has to be understood by any would-be wine lover sooner or later, here’s my attempt at a primer. Read the rest of this entry »