Tannins in Wine

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Tannins but Never Dared to Ask

Tannin is a polyphenol that naturally occurs in bark, fruit skins, leaves, seeds and wood. Approximately 50% of plant leaves are tannins. The word comes from the Latin word for oak bark, ‘tannum’. In wine, tannins come from either the wine grape skins or seeds, or from wood. It is the element that gives it a dry taste. It also adds astringency, bitterness and another highly sought after element: complexity.

The Taste of Tannin

When you take a sip of wine, mostly red but also white sometimes, the taste of the tannins will catch you particularly in the front part of your mouth and in the middle of your tongue. If this doesn’t sound familiar, try taking a mouthful of unsweetened black tea, which is almost 100% pure tannin dissolved in water, it tastes dry and sharp. Tannin can be found in quite a wide variety of foods. Here are a few examples:
– Nuts like almonds and walnutsblack-tea-tannins
– Dark chocolate
– Cloves
– Cinnamon
– Grapes
– Pomegranate
– Red Beans

Grape Tannins

Grape tannin comes from the stems, seeds and skins of grapes. When making white wine, grape skins are extracted before the fermentation process, whereas red wine grapes are fermented with their skins and dissolved over time. This means that red wines are generally higher in tannins than white wines. Nonetheless, even in red wines tannin levels vary. For example, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Temprannillo and Petit Verdot are high in tannin while Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Merlot and Grenache have significantly lower tannin levels.

Wood Tannins

But the grapes themselves are not the only source of wine tannin. Wines that are aged in wooden barrels absorb tannins from the wood, which in this case is usually oak wood due to the interesting flavours it infuses into the wine. And even when the aging process doesn’t take place in a wooden barrel, oak chips and tannin powders are becoming increasingly popular as a more affordable substitute.

Are Tannins Healthy?

Tannin is quit a controversial topic health wise. At some point, it was marked as a cause for migraines but the debate about the connection between migraines and tannin is on-going. Other than that, studies have shown that tannins have antioxidative properties, as primary and secondary antioxidants. They assist the prevention of cellular damage and are effective against bacteria and viruses., not to mention reducing blood pressure – just one more reason to love wine.

Elegance, Exclusivity, Craftsmanship

What Makes a Cult Wine?

Cult wines are wines that dedicated enthusiasts pay large sums of money for. These wines are often collected as a status symbol – or an investment. To some only an intimate selection of fine Bordeaux wines and certain Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the Napa valley are considered as cult wines. Although it is true that the majority of cult wines do originate from these areas, the industry is not that limited. Wines that fall under the title can be from other regions, like Rhône, Italy, or Burgundy. Whether it is a subtle, brilliant Pinot Noir or a sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon, some wines have that extra edge that turns them into a cult wine

Wine Barrels
What is it about them? Wine Barrels.


The Edge

A single quality makes a cult wine: high demand, and this is usually amplified by scarcity. A wine that comes into record-breaking popularity is nearly always created by a famous winemaker, and then authenticated by high ratings and reviews. When only a few hundred cases are produced at a time, cult wines become even more sought after. Although this may sound fairly straightforward, it is not that simple. In industries like motoring or music a clever ad campaign can shoot a new car range or song into instant stardom. In the wine industry advertising is entirely irrelevant without first producing a vastly superior product. How this is achieved only elite wine making companies know.

The Winemaker’s Secret

According to winemaker Michael G. Etzel from Beaux Frères Winery, the philosophy of wine that can achieve cult status is in the process. He believes in minimal intervention, and in using indigenous yeast. According to Etzel wine should be stored only in French Oak for between 10 months and a year while adjusting the percentage of new oak. At Beaux Frères the strict process also includes not racking the wine until it is ready to be bottled, and not fining or filtrating the wine. Known as making some of the most exquisite Pinot Noir outside of Burguny, and part owned by famous wine critic Robert Parker, Beaux Frères Winery is certainly a trusted source.

Grappling with the Wine List

Grappling with the Wine List

Best grapes for wine






It is often the case these days, particularly in ‘fine dining’ establishments, that the food menu is very short and the wine list is very long. Wine lists that go on for pages and pages can be a bit of a confusing ordeal though. Ultimately most of us just want something that will complement the food nicely and won’t cost the earth. How should the average wine enthusiast tackle the ‘larger than life’ wine list? Continue reading