Edgy, exuberant, free-range, green, smooth or silky… the perfect companion for winter dinners in front of the fireplace, tannin is on the lips of all wine lovers. Literally. But what do we really mean when we talk about wine tannicity? Here are the 4 questions you've never asked, with the answers.
Here are the four questions about tannin that you have never asked, with just as many simple answers: understanding red wines (but not only) will no longer be a problem!
1️⃣ What is tannin?
Tannin is a natural compound (a polyphenol, to be precise) contained in the skins of grapes (especially red grapes), but also in the seeds and stem.
But be careful: to be precise, some tannins are also released from the wooden barrels in which the wine ages. However in this case the effect in the wine is more limited.
We talk about tannicity mainly for red wines: not only are they made from grapes that are rich in tannins but above all the must macerates for a long time together with the skins and extracts these substances in large quantities. For this reason, a certain sensation of tannicity is also found in macerated white wines, the famous orange wines .
2️⃣ How do you recognize the effect of tannin in the mouth?
Tannin creates astringency , a sense of dryness that resembles, so to speak, dehydration , sometimes even leaving a slight bitter taste . But be careful: the effect of tannin is varied and changes with ageing, so this sharpness becomes smoother the more evolved the wine is.
Simplifying: from youthful impetuosity we move on to the elegance of maturity (therefore to silky and smooth tannins).
TANNIN IN THE LANGUAGE OF SOMMELIERS
The world of sommeliers generally divides tannin levels into 4:
- lapping or astringent : excessive perception of tannicity
- tannic : tannin is dominant
- rightly or fairly tannic : the tannic perception is pleasant
- slightly tannic or soft : barely perceptible tannin
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3️⃣ What is tannin used for?
Tannin has four major functions:
1. gives structure to the wine;
2. gives balance to the wine, balancing the softness (sugars and alcohol);
3. helps preserve wine;
4. gives it color.
4️⃣ What food should you pair with a wine with strong tannins?
Drying the mouth, a tannic red wine requires to be paired with juicy and succulent dishes (therefore rich in juices).
Green light therefore for fatty broths, braised meats, fatty meats rich in juices, stewed foods ...