f you like wine, this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard this term. But, do you really know what tannins are and what they do? This article offers a useful and simple explanation on everything you need to know about them. Take notes for your next wine tasting!
What are tannins?
To put it simply, tannins are compounds that occur naturally in the skin, seeds and stalks of grapes. You may have also heard of polyphenols in wine. Well, tannins are scientifically known as hydrosoluble polyphenols, compounds that are also present in other foods such as coffee or chocolate.
In red wine, when the skin and seeds come into contact with the must, they acquire these substances that produce the astringency and dryness that you note in some wines. In fact, in the descriptions of certain wines you may find that it is described as tannic if it is particularly rich in tannins.
On the other hand, aged wines also acquire tannins through contact with wooden barrels.
What do tannins do in wine?
Tannins act as natural antioxidants that help protect the wine and also provide colour, structure and a dry and slightly bitter taste. In addition, as you will know, polyphenols are valued in the areas of health and nutrition for their anti-inflammatory, astringent and antiseptic properties.
There are studies that show that black grapes are rich in phenolic acids, flavonoids and resveratrol. The latter is one of the most important substances because it helps reduce blood pressure and to look after our cardiovascular system. Other research also shows that resveratrol is important in the fight against cellular ageing, so it should be considered as an asset in degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. That said, wine is an alcoholic drink and we should always enjoy it in moderation.
Do all wines contain tannins?
As we have already said, tannins in red wine are acquired from the pips, husks and skins of the grapes used in the alcoholic fermentation of the must. By contrast, these parts of the grape are removed in the pressing of the must when making white wine. Thus, white wines contain fewer tannins, with those aged in barrels containing more.
On the other hand, we must consider that some grape varieties have more tannins than others. The tempranillo variety (like our 875 m Tempranillo),
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Mencía have a high presence of tannins. By contrast, the Garnacha or Pinot Noir have much fewer. In addition, we are fortunate that Spanish wines are richer in tannins as the sunny climate helps them proliferate, and because the wine-making processes are quite traditional and maintain the natural properties of the grape.
If you would like to know more about other compounds in wine such as sulphites, find out more in this article: