QUESTION: What does it mean for a wine to have tannins?

Tannins are the sensation of drinking wines that result in an almost thick and fuzzy feeling on the lips and tongue.  You may also get this sensation when drinking tea.  It can come from many different part of the wine making process.  The tannins are present in the grape skin which is why they are found more in red wines than white wines.  They are also present in new(er) oak barrels, wood chips and saw dust.  Many people really enjoy drinking young wines that have very thick, mouth coating tannins.  If the rest of the wine is robust enough (i.e. plenty of fruit and body) to support the tannins, this can be enjoyable.  With time, tannins will fade or integrate into the wine helping the aged wine to have more complexity.  That is why tannins can be a good indicator, although not conclusive, as to a wine’s ageing ability. Loren Sonkin is an Featured Contributor and the Founder/Winemaker at Sonkin Cellars.

Tannin is an essential element for the ageing of wine. It is a preservative. It can be derived from the skin of the grapes, also from pips and stalks, from ageing in wood barrels, from additives, from oak chips or staves. For a red wine to age, tannin is essential. The flavor or identifiable characteristics range from tasting like tea, to old leather, to oak, to a pithy flavor. Too much tannin is unpleasant. Too much oak masks many finer qualities in a wine, or even disguises the fact that a wine doesn’t possess finer qualities! Tannin mellows with age as it integrates and harmonizes with the other elements in wine. Bartholomew Broadbent, CEO of Broadbent Selections

To provide diverse, unbiased, and independent advice, Bartholomew and Loren answer all user submitted questions without consulting one another. Sometimes they agree, sometimes they don't. Always interesting though. Have a wine question for them? Submit it via our Contact Us form