Do you ever wonder why red wines have that slightly bitter taste? That’s because of tannins in red wine. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in grapes and other fruits and plants. They give red wines that signature taste and also add complexity and structure to the wine.
Understanding tannins in red wines makes it easier to understand how they impact our favorite wine’s flavor, texture, and ability to mature. A plant or tree’s wood, bark, leaves, fruit, nuts, and seeds contain naturally occurring chemical substances called polyphenols, which are the basis for tannins. They give plants a harsh, astringent flavor. Especially before fruit fully ripens.
Tannins can be found in a variety of foods other than grapes and red wine. Tea, coffee, cranberries, blueberries, walnuts, almonds, and chocolate… Particularly dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao, contain them. The astringency of tannins is responsible for the dryness and tightness we feel on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks after eating any of those foods. When drinking red wine, especially one with strong tannins, you get the same sensation. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah are examples of high tannin varieties. Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Gamay are examples of red wines with low tannins.
Tannins make red wine more enjoyable
So, tannins in red wines are a unique part that can make them more enjoyable, especially for those who appreciate the complex flavors and aromas of red wines. When tannins are present in red wine, they also help to preserve the wine, making it last longer than white wines.
If you want to get the most out of your red wines, you should experiment with different tannin levels. Try to find the balance that works best for you. Some people prefer a more tannic red wine, while others prefer less tannic wines. No matter which you prefer, tannins are a key component of red wines and can add a lot of depth and complexity to your favorite bottles.