In this video, we are talking tannin. Specifically, what are they? and why are they lurking in my glass of cab sav?
Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in the skins, seeds and stems of a wine grape. Red wine has naturally high levels of tannin as it is made using the skin of the grape and during production, the grapes are soaked for an extended period in their juices, giving the tannin time to dissolve in the alcohol and water of the wine. Tannins are also present in white wines, however their levels are very low.
Over the years there has been a lot of misunderstanding about the role tannins might play in bringing on headaches in susceptible people. The so-called ‘Red Wine Headache’ has been blamed on tannins, although the jury is still out as to whether they are the culprit or not.
Tannin is also naturally present in tea, soy, nuts, apple juice, chocolate and pomegranates and happen to be powerful antioxidants. In fact, the tannins in wine have been shown to resist oxidisation in a controlled study, whereas the tannins in tea do not. The conclusion being: wine tannins are actually super good for you!
The other great thing about the tannin in red wine is the nuances of flavour it brings. Texturally, tannin gives wine a sophisticated dryness. It also adds complexity through its bitterness and astringency. Grape varieties bring their own concentrations of tannin to wine. The Nebbiolo grape used in the Italian Barolo wine is a high grape tannin wine which is much loved around the world.
Tannin also gives great longevity to red wines when cellaring. When you pop the cork on your decade old Cabernet Sauvignon, you can thank those tannins for its glorious richness.
If you would prefer to select a wine with naturally low levels of tannin then opt for the following varieties: Pinot Noir, Grenache, Merlot or Zinfandel.
High tannin grape wines include Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese and Shiraz.
I hope this tutorial has alleviated your tannin trauma. There is nothing to fear from this little antioxidant pocket rocket that makes our red wine extra special. Reason enough to pop a cork this evening to toast your good health.
Watch the video here.