I've always understood that tannin is experienced as a purely textural element in wine (or tea, etc), completely divorced from flavor elements. That said, I continue to struggle with many of the descriptors I see in reviews in many (even all) mainstream publications. Of course I get descriptors like 'sandy' and 'gritty', and there are words like 'earthy', 'firm' and 'polished' which seem less exacting but in the context of a review one can extrapolate. But then I get into territory that I personally find much more challenging: 'savory', 'supple', 'juicy', 'ripe', 'succulent', and even 'sweet' (?!). Either I'm misunderstanding the nature of tannin and how we experience it, or I need to broaden my knowledge and vocabulary to include some of these more seeming esoteric descriptions. Any enlightening words or resource ideas would be appreciated. Thanks for your help!
In reply to Charlie Deal:
Hey Martin, While I was working in Chinon, we put a lot of time and effort into trying to rethink our barrel program, tasting through each piece and demi muid 4x a year to try to better understand which tonnelier, forrest, toast level and barrel size best matched each of our sites. I was taught to describe the tannins as fat, round, drying, astringent, or powerful. Without tasting the same wine with you it would be hard to figure out how the terms divide different tannin sensations, and I think that unless a group of people standardize their palates together carefully over many thousands of tastings, it might be impossible for these really minute differences to be meaningful and consistent. BUT if you start to associate a set of personal tannin descriptors with the texture sensations that you feel, and you try to be consistent with your own descriptions, you'll find a rich vocabulary to distinguish one of the most important factors in understanding a wine's process and quality level/price. Outside of a court blind tasting, I personally feel that it doesn't really do a service to a wine (or your guests) to simply describe its tannins as somewhere from low-high. Your own tasting notes will be a richer source of information and will help you to make better decisions for your guest's palate if you develop a consistent and nuanced set of tannin descriptors and start to apply it to every wine you taste. So I'd encourage you to find your own set and have some fun figuring out how that informs your feelings about wines as you taste going forward!
In reply to Vlada Stojanov:
In reply to Jeremy Eubanks: