Wine University 3: What are Tannins?

What exactly is Tannin ?

Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves, and fruit skins. About 50% of the dry weight of plant leaves are tannins. As a characteristic of wine, tannin adds both bitterness and astringency, as well as complexity. Wine tannins are most commonly found in red wine, although white wines have tannin from being aged in wooden barrels.

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Winemaker, David Nagengast of Scheid Vineyards says, “Tannins are compounds produced by the grape to protect the grape from predators. In wines, there are skin tannins and seed tannins. You also get the tannins from the oak during the making process. So when you’re tasting wine and it feels a little dry, those are the tannins that are doing that.”

Winemaker, Stephane Ogier states of Domaine M&S Ogier says, “To have the best tannin, you have to find the right day of picking the grapes, when the grapes are at their best maturity. This means, the grape shouldn’t be picked too early or too late.”

“They help with the structure of the wine, they help with the way the wine feels in the mouth”, David Nagengast adds.

Winemaker, David Nakajii of Sebastian Vineyard states, “They’re stringent, they bind protein that gives you that gives you that unique feeling in your mouth. When you drink a wine with high tannins, you get the taste of chalkiness, and they give body to the wine but as they age, they soften when the integration with the proteins isn’t as strong, so you don’t get that grippy tight feeling that that become more pleasurable as the wine ages.

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