tannins in winetannins in wine

What are tannins in wine and their properties for health?

Tannins in wine and cava are compounds well-known by the general public. If you’ve ever taken an interest in this world, you’re sure to have come across the word here or there. And it’s no surprise, as they play a crucial role in the drink’s acquisition of characteristics. 


What are tannins in wine?

Wine tannins are plant compounds found in various types of plants, such as vines. These are polyphenolic substances extracted from the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes during the winemaking process. As a result, the drink acquires certain characteristics such as greater resistance to oxidation, for example. 
What’s more, tannins give the wine structure and body, as well as astringency, which is the feeling of dryness in the mouth that can often be perceived when drinking a young red wine. Likewise, they play a role in taste and promote the aging process, as they tend to soften with time. It is for this reason that tannins are much less commonly found in reserve red wines or great reserve red wines. 
It’s worth noting that the quantity and type of tannins will vary according to the grape variety used, the type of vineyard, the climate conditions, the winemaking method, and the aging time. Their presence and balance are decisive factors in appreciating the drink’s body and structure, while their perception depends greatly on the consumer’s individual preferences. 


Tannins in grapeTannins in grape
Tannins in a wine barrelTannins in a wine barrel

Which type of wine has more tannins? 

Red wines tend to have more tannins compared to white wines, which have less tannins as a result of the compound’s location. One part of the grape in which tannins are present is in the skin, which remains in contact with the must for a prolonged period, particularly in red wines, making the concentration higher than in other types. 
Likewise, the quantity of tannins present in red wines can vary according to the grape variety used and the winemaking style. In the case of varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Tannat, and Syrah, higher levels can be achieved, particularly when the grapes are grown in regions with significant phenolic maturity. 
Young wines and recently made wines often exhibit heightened astringency due to the presence of fresher and more robust tannins. With time and aging in oak barrels or in bottles, the plant compounds usually soften, contributing to the development of greater elegance and complexity. 


What are the benefits of tannins in wine?

Although you’ve already seen a few of the roles this compound plays, it’s well worth getting to know them in more detail. To get started, tannins affect flavor, offering different nuances—whether dry, harsh, rough, or bitter. In fact, the higher the concentration, the higher the bitterness and dryness will be. 
They also influence the aging process by allowing this process to last longer. As in the case of flavor, the concentration of tannins will produce a greater or lesser effect. As such, if the quantity is high, the process can be extended without damaging the wine. It will then obtain complexity, structure, and a well-defined body. 
Color is another factor that comes into play. In the case of red wines, depth and intensity are determined by tannins. To achieve a certain result, winemakers need to consider the type of grape they use in order to avoid going too far or falling short, which will affect the personality of the final product. 
In turn, this element offers protection to the wine, particularly in terms of reducing oxidation, since this is an undesirable process. Tannins act as natural antioxidants, which means that no chemical-origin antioxidants need to be added. At the end of the day, this ensures that the wine has acceptable levels of freshness and vitality, two characteristics consumers will appreciate. 

Tannins in red wineTannins in red wine
What are tanninsWhat are tannins

How do you know how many tannins are contained in wine?

Determining the exact quantity of tannins in wine accurately and quantitatively requires using laboratory methods and specific analysis. However, you can evaluate their general presence through a tasting. Take note of these suggestions and put them into practice: 

- Visual observation. Examine the intensity of the color to get an idea of the concentration. For example, red wines with greater tannin extraction tend to present darker and more intense tones.  


- Astringency test. This is an unfailing sign. When you try the wine, pay attention to the sensation of dryness or roughness in the mouth after swallowing. The greater this is, the more tannins are present. 


- Flavor and texture. These plant compounds can add bitter flavors, astringency, and a feeling of structure to the wine. Look for these elements when tasting your wines and consider how they affect the general perception. You might not notice a huge difference in your first few tries, but with practice, you’ll be able to detect the nuances. 


- Persistence. Tannins tend to leave a lingering sensation in the mouth. Assess how long the flavors and astringency last after swallowing the wine. If the concentration is high, the effect will naturally be more prolonged. 


- Age of the wine. As you know, tannins tend to soften over time. If you’re tasting a reserve wine, like a good Viña Pomal Selección 106 Reserva, the tannins will have properly evolved and will be more subtly perceived in comparison to a young wine, like the Séptima Malbec. As such, it’s important to pay attention to and try different products to make comparisons.


We’ve already explained how to taste a wine, but remember, when it comes to tastings, try not to rush. Take your time and allow your palette to adapt to the different characteristics you’ll encounter. At the end of the day, each wine has its own personality and structure to discover. 
Tannins in wine are an essential element, and it’s important to know how they work. Producers take great care with their wines to achieve certain qualities. All of this contributes to making their work stand out from the rest. If you’re looking for more examples, you’ll find an extensive catalogue in our online wine store. Take a look now!