What are Tannins?

Have you heard about tannins? If you love drinking wine, chances are you have heard this word thrown around frequently. There is a wide range of confusing information regarding tannins, so we are here to clear up all the confusion and tell you the truth about tannins.

What are tannins exactly?

Tannins are found in nature such as fruit, leaves, bark, wood, oak, tea, cranberries, grapes, cacao, walnut, and rhubarb. Today we are going to focus on the tannins found in grapes since that’s what we have here at Raylen Vineyards in the Yadkin Valley Wine Country.

Where do tannins come from?

Tannins come from a variety of sources including grape seeds, grape skins, and stems. Some tannins are also found in wood barrels that are used during the aging process. Tannins are responsible for creating the dry sensation you experience in your mouth after drinking your favorite glass of red wine.

What do tannins do?

Tannins produce an astringent and bitter taste that is used in nature to deter animals in the wild from consuming the plant, seeds, or fruit before it fully ripens. In the past, tannins that originated from tree barks were used to create leather products. Today, tannins are found in red wine, coffee, dark chocolate, and a variety of teas.

How do tannins work?

These mysterious tannins bind and separate proteins naturally. This process and the fact that tannins have this ability is what creates the sensation in your mouth as well as makes red wine a perfect complement to red meat.

The quality of tannins can be velvety, plush, or silky. The weakness or strength of the wine is determined by the length of time the juice marinates with the stems, seeds, and grape skins. The longer it marinates the stronger the taste. The reason red wines have more tannins than white wines is due to the skins being included when making the red wine to create the beautiful color you are used to seeing. However, when the characteristics of tannins are extracted it creates a deep complexity.

Do tannins cause a wine to age?

A common belief is that tannins help the wine age but the truth is things are a bit more complex than a yes or no answer regarding this subject. Tannins naturally evolve during the aging process of wine whether it’s in bottles or barrels. During the aging process, the chemistry of the wine is affected by the tannins but it’s not the only thing involved in the aging of the wine.

However, during the polymerization process, which is when small molecules chemically combine creating long chains, the longer the wine ages, the tannins begin to soften which makes the wine more pleasant to drink compared to a wine that is younger.

Benefits of Tannins

Tannins provide the following benefits:

  • They create a unique texture that produces a specific feeling in the mouth
  • They bind to proteins which makes red wine a perfect match for red meat
  • They contain natural fining agents by binding to proteins
  • The tannins found in red wine are natural antioxidants that are good for the human body when consumed in moderation

Do white wines have tannins?

White wines are known to have fewer tannins when compared to red wines. Typically, unoaked white wines have the least amount and are ideal for those who have a sensitivity to tannins.

Does oak effect tannins in red wine?

Yes. During the aging process, fermented wine is placed in barrels to allow the tannins in the oak to leach into the wine. Winemakers take this process very seriously since the wine needs to already have a specific power and weight to prevent the tannins in the oak from overwhelming the flavor.

Tannins are an important part of making wine. Red wine has longer contact with skins for coloring purposes which also increases the number of tannins in the wine, while white wine has the least amount of contact with skins which makes them have lower levels of tannins.

Tannins are a popular subject among wine connoisseurs since they create texture, weight, and coloring to wine. The unique process used by winemakers worldwide includes oak barrels that contain tannins and is often used during the fermentation process. Chances are you have already tasted elegant wines that have included oak in the winemaking process.

Winemakers in the Yadkin Valley Winery are very aware of tannins and the benefits they provide the wine as well as the consumer. The type of grapes used during the winemaking process also plays a big part in the flavor of the wine as well as the final result when tannins are involved.

Are you interested in trying sophisticated and elegant wines that contain tannins? If so, come explore a new world of tannins and wine at at Raylen Vineyards!

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