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What are tannins?

I bet you’ve heard the word ‘tannins’ before and have wondered what they are. Tannins are a naturally occurring compound found in many species of plants and in this case, grape seeds, skins and stems. Once grapes have been pressed in the winery, the seeds, skins and stems soak in the grape juice and release tannin – how long they soak for determines how much tannin a wine has. 

Tannin is what gives a wine its dryness and astringency. Red wines usually have more tannin characteristics than white wine as red wine juice sits longer with the seeds, skin and stems – this method also gives red wine its wonderful colour. 

Tannins, like sulphur can affect people in different ways, so when you think you’ve got a ‘red’ wine headache, it can most likely be from a wine that is high in tannin. Here is some good news though – tannin also acts as a natural antioxidant which protects the wine from spoiling. Which ultimately means, we don’t need to add too much sulfur in the winemaking process. 

Another good point to remember is that your palate releases its own flavours and this is why tannins can taste different from person to person and why everyone enjoys wine differently. Also, did you know that fat makes high tannin wine taste smoother? So you might find that you can enjoy those big bold red wines with a hearty meal, but not on their own.