Tannins play an important part in the complexity of wine, as well as its ability to age. These naturally occurring chemical components, found in the skins and seeds of grapes, are responsible for the astringent, or “puckering” factor, of young red wines. Below is a quick summary of six things a wine drinker needs to know:
- As a wine ages, its tannins soften.
- Different red grapes contain differing amounts of tannin: highest levels are found in Cab Sauv and Syrah. Lowest levels are found in Pinot Noir and Grenache.
- Tannins are important in giving wine structure, hence, they play a vital role in the balance of a wine (where elements such as fruit, acidity, alcohol are in harmony)
- High tannin wines need to be paired with the rich, fatty foods in order to soften their astringency & bitterness…think grilled T-bone or rib eye.
- Wine barrels (particularly new ones) also add tannin to a wine.
- Although far less than their red counterparts, white wines also contain tannins, Like red wines, those whites aged in new oak have more tannin.