What are tannins?

What are tannins?

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Surely you have heard about them a thousand times and surely you yourself have said ’round tannins’ or ‘unpolished tannins’, but… Do you really know what tannins are?

Today we are going to tell you a few things about them that will make you know even more about the world of wine.

From a scientific point of view, tannins are phenolic compounds produced in some fruits and the bark of plants and trees. They have a characteristic odor, bitter taste and cause a sensation of dryness in the mouth, since their function is to act as a defense mechanism in these vegetables, preventing predators from eating their fruits, leaves and seeds before full ripening. But in addition to this function, tannins act as a natural antioxidant, which together with other factors such as alcohol, body and acidity, are essential to give structure and longevity to the wine.

As mentioned above, the tannins in wine come mainly from the grapes, since they are present in the grape skins, pips and stems of the vine. Because of this, those wines in which the must is exposed for a longer time to the presence of the skins, pips and/or stems will have more tannins. This is the reason why white or rosé wines have less presence of these polyphenols. However, it is not only the grape that is a source of tannins in wine, since when the wine is stored in wooden barrels, the tannins present in the wood are also dissolved through contact.

Regarding the contribution of tannins to a wine, we have already mentioned that they provide both bitterness and astringency, as well as complexity to the taste, giving a sensation of dryness, bitterness and even roughness on the gums and tongue. But not only this. The presence of tannins will also influence the ability of wines to age well, since the higher the concentration of tannins and anthocyanins, the better the wine will age, presenting greater body, structure and complexity.

As for the concentration of tannins in the different wine varieties, it is not the same from one to another. Some varieties with a high tannin load are Syrah, Mencía, Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Malbec, Syrah, Sangiovese and Tempranillo, among others, while Pinot Noir, Gamay, Garnacha, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc or Barbera, stand out for their lower tannin concentrations.

But not only the variety influences the tannin concentration of a wine. Other factors, such as the level of ripeness of the berries, the influence of the terroir, the characteristics of the vintage, the time of fermentation and maceration, or the style of wine, among others, also influence these levels. Therefore, the winemaker’s mastery also has a lot to do with the concentration of tannins in a wine, since there are different techniques to ‘tame’ the tannins in a wine, such as the use of oak barrels, the micro-oxygenation technique or the fining process, which help to ‘soften’ the sensation caused by the tannins.

At Bodega Fabio Coullet in our red wine ‘Ingénito’, we use Grenache, a variety with soft tannins, and our philosophy in the winery is to let it express itself as we believe it is, and also as we believe our slate terroir in the Axarquia to be, Ingenito is a fresh and floral garnacha, with very soft tannins and enormously well polished, all this is in line with our philosophy of minimum intervention in the winery, opting for a minimum refinement in French oak barrels of 500 liters, used for at least 4 months. 



The result is a fine and extremely delicate wine, with a mineral touch, dominated by aromas of cherry, strawberry, violet notes, resinous herbs and Mediterranean pines that accompany the delicate refinement of the barrel aging. It presents a magnificent mouth, fresh and balanced, a set with harmony and very fresh to be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Do you want to try it? Visit our store now and get your ‘Ingénito’.

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