What are Tannins?

Tannins FAQ:

What are Tannins?  Tannins are a biomolecule that binds to protein

What are Tannins in Wine?  Well, Tannin exists in many foods.  There are Tannins in Wine, Coffee, Tea, Chocolate and things we don’t eat including Wood.

Where do Tannins come from?  Tannins occur naturally in certain foods.  Tannin in wine specifically comes from four sources:  Grape skins, Grape seeds, Grape Stems and the wood used to age wine.

Are there Tannins in red wine, if so, why?  Yes, there is Tannin in Red Wine.  When wine is made, the juice is extracted by crushing or pressing the grapes.  When the wine is fermented, the “must”(the mash of grapes, stems and seeds) is left in the juice and therefore  tannin from the grapes, skins and seeds are extracted into the juice. 

Are there Tannins in white wine?  No, for the most part there are no tannins in white wine, but there are occasions.  There are winemakers who choose to let the grape skins some extended contact with the juice when making white wine.  Rose wines are also made this way.

How do you detect tannins in wine?  Tannins create the dry sensation in your gums and tongue when drinking red wine.  Tannins can also add a bitter flavor.

Can I have a tannin allergy?  That is up for debate.  Wine allergies in general are largely unproven, but in my opinion there is no tannin allergy.  There are other aspects like sulfites and histamines in red wine that I believe cause allergies.

Facts About Tannins in Wine

Food Pairing:

As I stated earlier, Tannins bind to protein which is why you typically pair red wine with meat;  this also diminishes the drying effect of the tannin.

Tannins also create a slightly bitter effect which is why you want to pair tannic red wine with meats that are grilled or charred.  The char and carmelization  the meat get from grilling or charring has a slightly bitter flavor so the tannins help cancel that out.

Highly salty food paired with tannin wine is bad.  Salt and Tannin create a bitter/metallic taste.

Tannins enhance the heat in spicy food.

Effects of Tannins:

The drying effect of tannin in wine affect specific parts of your mouth as a result of different origins of the tannin.

Tannins from grape skin create the drying effect on your tongue.

The other tannins come from the seeds, stems and wood.  These tannins affect your gums and cheeks.

Tannins go away:

Tannins soften as wine ages which one of the main reasons you age wines like Bordeaux, Barolo and higher quality Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot or any other wines that have high levels of Tannins and/or Acid.

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