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Fan-tannin-tastic! What is tannin?   | Clos19 UK

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Fan-tannin-tastic! What is tannin

Put your sunscreen away; we are not talking about skin bronzing. Tannin is an important wine word to get to know as it will help you understand why your wine tastes the way it does. Here’s what tannin means, where it comes from and why it’s so often a very good thing for your wine.

Learn what tannin is by taking a sip of heavy red wine and swilling it around your mouth. Cabernet sauvignon is a good one to try for this experiment. Does it make you lick your teeth and gums? Does it seem particularly dry and astringent? If so, chances are, your wine is high in tannin. You may have had a similar sensation when you’ve sipped some over-brewed tea; that’s tannin too.

Be a tannin detective

Learn what tannin is by taking a sip of heavy red wine and swilling it around your mouth. Cabernet sauvignon is a good one to try for this experiment. Does it make you lick your teeth and gums? Does it seem particularly dry and astringent? If so, chances are, your wine is high in tannin. You may have had a similar sensation when you’ve sipped some over-brewed tea; that’s tannin too.

Tannin’s like a teenager…

The tannins in wine come from the grape skins, seeds and stalks as they are soaked in the grape juice after pressing. Red wines have more tannins than white wines as their juice is left longer to soak with all these bits to add colour and structure. Sometimes, a lot of time spent in oak can mean that the wine absorbs extra tannins from the wood and these can feel a little harder, especially if the wine itself is already quite a tannic. Interestingly, it reminds us that the word tannin derives from the Latin ‘tannum’, meaning oak bark. Never fear, though! These wines may feel like gawky teenagers at first, but they’re meant for longer ageing so when they’re ready, they’ll blossom into beautifully mellow, spicy and complex wines.

 

Why are some wines more tannic than others?

Winemaking techniques will vary from producer to producer around the world, but some grape varieties are more tannic than others. If you love that dry structure, go for a cabernet sauvignon, the well-named tannat, nebbiolo or a petit verdot. Some grapes with medium amounts of tannin are malbec, grenache and syrah and if you prefer a juicier, softer red wine style, then look for low tannin wine grapes such as pinot noir, merlot and barbera.

Tannin in wine adds backbone and texture, preventing the wine from tasting like fruit cordial. But tannin is also a natural antioxidant, which is why the more tannic a wine is, the longer it can age

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