13 Apr

What are Tannins?

13 April 2019

What are Tannins?

Tannin is a natural component of wine, and is a chemical substance present in plant extracts, belonging to the family of polyphenols, common in plants and trees.
In the grapes we find the tannins in the peel (in the dark-skinned grapes), in the pips (the seeds inside the grape) and in the stalk (the stem that holds the bunch), but they are also found in the wood of the barrels.
It is thanks to the tannins that the wine, especially the red, is preserved better, and, again thanks to the action of tannins, we will have the variegated nuances that we so much appreciate in red wines.
The tannins in fact help to give the wine body and structure, and are responsible for the typical sensation of astringency due to the interaction of these polyphenols with saliva proteins. A wine that is too "tannic" therefore will completely dry out the mouth, like when you bite a little ripe caco, while a wine with more balanced tannins will give pleasant sensations of fullness and structure.
At the time of harvest it is important that the stems are removed before the grapes are crushed and that it (soft pressing) takes place in a soft, almost delicate manner: in this way it will be avoided that they are released from the stems too green or too strong from the grape seeds , which could negatively affect the final result.
In the cellar
, the time of maceration and resting of the wine on its skins will have a timing decided by the winemaker, based on the type of color, body, structure and astringency that will then be characteristic of that wine, but also to give the same wine a greater storage capacity and durability.
Finally, the aging in cask will give the final and final contribution of the tannins. It is in fact the oxygen microcirculation that occurs with wood to transfer aromas and olfactory complexity to the wine.
in fact the more the barrel will be small (barriques or caratello) the higher the relationship between wood and wine.
An oak barrel
will release over time more tannins than other woods used to make barrels, be they oak, chestnut, cherry, maple. In the new barrels the tannins will be fresh and more evident, in the most used barrels soft and round tannins will be given.

And in whites? In a minimal percentage of the total production there are some very successful examples of wines with long maceration on the skins, or of short passages in barrels which are then white with body and structure out of the ordinary.