What are Tannins? Learn in Two Minutes

Andrew Busch pouring Folded Hills wine
DON’T LET THE TOPIC OF TANNIN RUIN YOUR TASTING

Classic scenario – you’re out wine tasting and having a great time with your friends. You are swirling, smelling, sipping and chatting when someone has to ruin the moment by mentioning tannin. Immediately the group is divided and your confidence in talking about wine is gone.

Are you ready to be empowered? Tannin is a compound that does not give off a flavor but a tactile sensation that feels rough and dry on the tongue. Imagine the sensation you might have from licking a piece of cardboard. It is a natural antioxidant and a natural preservative that protects the wine as it ages. It is naturally found in the skins, stems, and seeds of a grape, and also found in oak barrels (and green tea leaves, dark chocolate, and walnuts).

wine tasting at Wine+Beer
HOW CAN THE WINEMAKER AFFECT THE TANNINS IN WINE?

The amount of tannin in wine has a lot to do with the grape because grapes with thicker skins mean more tannin will be present in the wine. The winemaker has some control through the use of oak, or by including stems along with the grapes during fermentation.

A good winemaker approaches every decision with the goal of achieving balance. Grenache is naturally lighter bodied with elegant fruit and floral notes. Over extraction of skins or stems would result in too firm of tannins that mask these delicate flavors. By contrast, Syrah is fuller bodied, with darker fruit and earth notes, and can handle more tannins.

turquoise jewelry and red wine
IS IT TANNIN, TANNINS OR TANNIC?

Tannin is a molecule found in wine. Tannins are the plural form, as in, “The tannins in this wine are light and velvety.” Tannic is an adjective, as in, “This wine tastes great, not too tannic.” This is not to be confused with Tannic Acid, a man made, powdered additive added to wine to try and achieve the same effect.

Now you are equipped to carry on, or even start the conversation about tannin. Next time you wine taste, see if you can identify the feeling of tannins on your tongue, and taste the difference between each red wine you taste. Cheers!

If you enjoyed reading this article please add your name to our mailing list HERE. You will be the first to know when new and limited release wines are available, along with fun updates of what’s happening on the ranch. Pictures taken at Wine + Beer , a local retail shop and tasting bar that carries Folded Hills wine.

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