What are Tannins?

With passionate wine drinkers, it’s common to find that a person prefers either red or white very strongly over the other. For some, it has to do with flavor profiles, as reds tend to be deep and earthy, while whites lean towards crisp and fruity. For others, they may tell you it’s because of the tannins.

Tannins. You probably hear that word a lot in regards to wine but do you really know what it means? The short answer is that the tannin is the natural element that makes wine dry.



The longer, more detailed answer is that tannins are a polyphenol, or a macromolecule phenols which are a complex bond of hydrogen and oxygen, and are naturally found in plants, seeds, wood, bark, and fruit skins. This means that oak barrels, earth notes like cedar, and dark fruits will all contribute to a drier wine that is much higher in tannins. Sound familiar?


Additionally, the tannin level is directly affected by how long the fruit skins and oaky elements are left to rest in the wine once they’ve been pressed, which is why reds always more highly tannic than whites, and also tend to be on the dry side.


The great thing about tannins is that they’re a natural antioxidant that protects the wine! We keep hearing these rumors about red wine having antioxidants so it’s actually good for you, and this is because of those tannins that people keep talking about.


If you don’t like the dry sensation that happens in your mouth after a sip of red wine, you probably aren’t a huge fan of tannins. Wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Syrah are going to be extremely tannic and are very dry but not all reds have that depth. Look for something a little lighter, or switch to white wine to find something a little sweeter and less tannic.


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