This article was published on February 17th, 2015
By now, you’ve probably heard the word “tannins” used over and over again in wine tasting and amongst red wines. You might ask, what exactly is tannin and why is it so important?
Here’s Jim’s easy to understand breakdown of everything you need to know about tannin:
(J- Jim Faulkner)
What are tannins?
J: Simply, it is the drying feeling in your mouth after sipping a red wine. You feel it on the middle of your tongue and front part of your mouth. Believe it or not, tannin is more of a texture than a taste. It’s an element that makes the wine taste dry and astringent.
Where does tannin in wine come from?
J: Tannin is a natural element commonly found in plants, wood, leaves, fruit skins and seeds. In winemaking, wine tannins come from grapes (grape tannins) and wood (wood tannins).
Grape tannin is naturally found on the skins, seeds and stems of grapes. The longer contact time with the skins, seeds and stems, the more tannin extraction. This means, the extended contact of the grapes to the juice allows tannin to have more time to dissolve in the alcohol and juice.
Since red wines are fermented with the skins, seeds and stems, while white wines are fermented juices, red wines tend to have more tannins than white wines.
Likewise, wood tannins occur when wine is stored in wooden, oak barrels and has had time to dissolve. Alternatively, adding oak chips can also increase wine contact with wood tannins.
Is tannin good for a wine then?
J: Tannins are good for wines because they are a natural preservative to help the wine age longer and safer. Wines with higher tannins tend to age better than wines with lower tannins. That being said, the wine will need to be well balanced to begin with, otherwise it will not improve and age well.
What happens to tannin overtime?
J: Tannins softens overtime to reveal a plush, velvety wine. If you are drinking a younger or tannic wine, you will find it more approachable and softer when paired with a protein, such as red meat or cheese.
What are some high and low tannin wines you have made at Mt. Boucherie Winery?
J: High tannin wine- 2010 Syrah (Tip: Pair high tannin wines with rich red meats, such as braised lamb or a charcuterie plate.)
Have you tried a wine high or low in tannin? How did you like it? Let us know below.
This post is presented by family-owned Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery in West Kelowna, British Columbia. Visit Mt. Boucherie for award-winning wines that reflect the Gidda Family’s passion and commitment in producing quality Okanagan wines since 1968.