It’s more than likely that, either at wine tastings or just having a drink with friends, you’ll have come across people saying “this wine has got a lot of tannins” or “the tannins in this wine are well integrated”; and it’s possible that you had no idea what they were talking about. If you don’t want the expression “tannins in wine” to continue being all Greek to you, then carry on reading because at Grupo Coviñas we’re here to explain it all to you!
What are tannins in wine?
Wine tannins belong to the family of polyphenols, vegetable compounds found in the skins of some types of fruit. By way of example, tannins are found tea, coffee, spinach, pomegranates, quince and apples, and they are what gives them all that puckering, dry bitter feeling in the mouth.
They are found in the skin, seeds, stems and skin of grapes, though they can also derive from the wood of the casks. During the winemaking process, the grape juice is in contact with these elements and the tannins are transferred to wine. Normally more of them are to be found in red wine that in rosés or whites, the latter only having them present if they have spent time in oak.
5 things you didn’t know about tannins in wine
Dryness, roughness and bitterness are a consequence of tannins
Have you ever had that feeling of dryness and roughness around the gums and teeth? This is caused by the tannins in the wine. These provide a dry, harsh, rough and bitter taste to the wine.
Wine does not like extremes, as we explained in our post dedicated to the ideal temperature for red wine, and the same goes for tannins, an excess of them can be disagreeable. If a wine is big on astringency and bitterness, and leaves your mouth like sandpaper, it will not be pleasant – though there’s no accounting for taste!
Did you know that there are different types of tannins?
When tasting a red wine you can distinguish between:
- Sweet and velvety tannins: these leave a slight sensation of dryness in the mouth, indicating that it is at its best for drinking, but it will not develop much.
- Silky tannins: they are tannins that, when swallowed, leave you with smooth, refreshed palate. This indicates a wine with a good capacity for ageing and well-structured tannins.
- Dry tannins: these really dry out your mouth, so much so that it may be difficult to get your saliva flowing again. This type of tannins indicates that the casks used for fermentation were too old, or that the wine has spent too long macerating with its skins, seeds and stems.
Tannins are essential for the balance of a red wine
Tannins aside from being one of the factors that give structure to wine, are the backbone of red wine, giving it that balance between fruit, acidity and alcohol.
Tannins have health benefits
The tannins have a lot of health benefits. They not only clear the palate and digestive tract, they are also rich in heart-friendly procyanidins. Furthermore, tannins have an antioxidant effect, which is helpful in the prevention of cardiovascular and degenerative disease.
Tannins allow red wine to improve with age
Tannins also help prevent oxidation, which is why they play a very important role in the ageing process of wine.
So, silky tannins ensure that red wine can mature gradually over decades. These tannins are the only ones that soften and develop a more velvety taste over time..
So, even though a red wine may be high in tannins, if these are not silky ones, it will not age well.
Fancy trying to identify tannins??
What you need do to identify the tannins is very straightforward. Just follow these steps:
- Take a sip of your wine.
- Hold the wine in your mouth for about 15 seconds.
- Gently slosh the wine around your mouth or let some air in to enhance the sensation of tannins when swallowing.
- This will enable you to explore the tannic sensation that wine leaves on your tongue, palate and gums.
- Et voilà! You will be able to tell if the wine has too many or few tannins and the type of them in the wine.
We are sure that, now that you’ve discovered the mysteries of tannins in wine, you’ll never drink Requena wines the same way again!
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