Wine Tannin vs Acidity

Tannins leave a tactile, drying sensation that coats your mouth; acid is a flavor that tastes sour, tart, and zest on your tongue.

Fun Wine Fact: All wines will have acid, but not all wines will have tannin.

What’s Tannin?

tannin in wine infographic

Tannin is a key component in all red wines, some rose wines, and a few white wines. It comes from the seeds, skins, and stems in wine.

Tannin makes your mouth feel dry and chalky.

Helpful Tip: Here’s a 30-second tasting tip on how to taste tannins.

What’s Acid

Acid comes from the grape juice. All grapes have acid. Acid is a flavor that you’re familiar with in other foods – from lemonade to apples and sour candy. Acid makes your mouth feel wet and you salivate. All wines have acid. Some are high in acid, others low in acid.

Helpful Tip: Here’s everything you need to know (and more) about acid in wine.

How to Tell the Difference Between Acid and Tannin: At-Home Experiment


The best way to pull apart the differences between acid and tannin is to do a side-by-side tasting of wines. You want 1) Nebbiolo (look for a Langhe Nebbiolo from Italy. These are affordable.), and 1) Sauvignon Blanc.

  • Why Nebbiolo? Nebbiolo is a high acid, high tannin red wine.
  • Why Suavignon Blanc? Sauvignon Blanc is a high acid white wine without tannins.

Pour yourself a glass of each and taste the Sauvignon Blanc first and the Nebbiolo second. Your mouth should water after sipping the Sauvignon Blanc. This is the acid. As soon as you take a sip of the Nebbiolo, you’ll notice the tannins, too. You’ll still have the high acid, but the tannins are unmistakable.

Fun Wine Fact: Acid and tannin work together as natural preservatives in your wine. High-acid, high-tannin wines, like Nebbiolo, are wines that can age for several years.

Thirsty for More?

Check out this red wine tannin chart that will give you a breakdown of low-medium-high tannin red wines.

Here’s a list of wines like Sauvignon Blanc if you like crisp white wines.

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