Why Does My Wine Taste Bitter?

Wine! Wine! Wine! And more WINE!  Who doesn’t love wine?

Though lately, I’ve been noticing my red wine tastes bitter throughout the first few sips.  Puckering my lips, I can’t help but feel disappointed as I want every taste to be what I’ve longed for at the end of a tiring and stressful work day…rich and smooth.

So I went back to the basics by doing a lot of 101 research, to get a better understanding of why this is happening.

So Why Does Wine Taste Bitter?

Simply put, there are four basic elements of wines: taste, tannins, alcohol, and acidity. Each of these elements distinguishes the intensity of different kinds of wines and will define whether you like a certain wine or not.

Red wines containing tannins, one of those basic elements of wines, provides the bitterness flavor in wine. The more tannins, the more bitter the wine. Cabernet Sauvignon is one example that is high in tannins. A result of too many tannins is from the extracting of bad tannins from green stems, crushing from grape seeds, over-drained of good tannins from pressing, oak barrel aging, or lack of balance in wine ingredients.

The tannins serve as a natural preservative, which simplifies why red wine ages so well and can be stored for many years, giving us a truly vintage taste (vintage wine is the best!).  Since red wines should be stored at 60-65 degrees, if you over-refrigerated it can become too bitter and you won’t be able to taste some of the flavors in it.

Tannins are the vital definition for wine tastings: dryness, bitterness, and astringency (a chemical compound that tends to shrink or constrict tissues). The bitter taste of wine is sourced mainly to the certain phenolic mixture (a large group of several hundred chemical compounds that affect the taste, color and mouthfeel of wine).  

How To Prevent Your Wine From Tasting Bitter:

If you’re drinking a bottle of tannic red wine that is under eight years old, chances are that letting it breathe, or aerate, will improve its taste.  Aerating wine lessens its astringency by breaking down its tannins and open it up. I’ve yet to try this method, but people swear by putting wine in the blender for 30 seconds.

Another tactic is to open up a bottle, put it aside, and let it breathe for at least 45 minutes…but who has time (and patience) for that?  Pouring it into a decanter works as well but my favorite quick and cost efficient method, is to pour wine back and forth between 2 glasses.  I’ll do this repeatedly (over the sink of course) and this allows the wine to aerate. I swear this method gets my wine to that rich and smooth texture that I just love. It’s really just taking the extra 3 minutes to do this exercise that I have to get more in the habit of. 

Here’s to literally “opening up” your wine tonight!

1 thought on “Why Does My Wine Taste Bitter?”

  1. I have heard about the blender method too! I haven’t tried it yet, mostly because 1) I already dirty enough dishes as it is and 2) I am just lazy.

    Maybe I will have to do an experiment sometime soon, though, now that you have posted about it.


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