This guide to tannins in wine is part of our wine guide series. Learn about the subtleties of tannins and how they affect wine texture and flavor.
What are Tannins in Wine?
As they relate to wine, Tannins come predominantly from the skins and seeds of the grapes used to make wine. If oak barrels are used in the aging process, smaller concentrations are also absorbed from the wood as a wine ages. In fact, tannins are usually only detectable in red wines as Vintners soak the grape juice with the grape skins in order to extract both color and tannic content during the early stages of the wine making process. Red grapes also contain a higher concentration when compared to white grapes. You’ll have a deeper tannic experience with white wine if it has been aged within the confines of an oaken barrel.
Tannins do not have a smell or taste associated with them. These phenolic compounds give wine structure and texture by introducing astringency. They in part affect our perception of dry-mouth and tend to make your mouth pucker.
Tannins also help to preserve wine and give it color. If you’re new to wine tasting, remember that the main difference between tannins and acidity is that tannins are experienced through sense of touch. Acidity is experienced as a flavor.
Fun fact: Scientists are exploring the health benefits and anticancer properties of tannins found in various types of plants
Tannins are Everywhere!
Tannins are present in more than just red rapes. They can also be found just outside your door when you look at a tree or in your cup of green tea. Everything from the leaves to the roots of most plants contain some degree of tannic content.
The Scientific Definition of Tannins in Wine
Scientifically classified as polyphenols, a Tannin is a naturally occurring organic chemical compound present in a number of plant species.
This macromolecure makes its presence known in your mouth by binding to proteins within our saliva. In doing so, these proteins are precipitated, creating contraction and dryness within the cellular structures.