Wine Word of the Week: Tannins

By Kori ~ June 12th, 2008.

As of today, we are implementing a new weekly feature called Wine Word of the Week. Each Thursday I will select one wine word that you may have heard but may not be exactly sure what it means. I’ll share with you an official “textbook” definition and then do my best to explain it in layman’s terms.

Our first Wine Word of the Week is tannins.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Tannins are a diverse and complex group of chemical compounds that occur in the bark of many trees and in fruits, including the grape. Strictly speaking, a tannin is a compound that is capable of interacting with proteins and precipitating them; this is the basis of the process of tanning animal hides (hence the name tannin) and is also a process that is believed to be responsible for the sensation of astringency. Tannins in wine come predominantly from the grapes and, to a much lesser extent, from the wood in which the wine is aged.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Tannins prolong the life of a great red wine. High tannins “pucker up” the inside of your mouth and leave it feeling dry and cottony. As the wine ages, the tannins “soften” and become less harsh in your mouth.

Filed under: Wine Word of the Week

Reader's Comments

  1. Aunt Jeannie | June 17th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I loved the Layman’s terms. It really helps someone at the beginning stages.

  2. Jerry Arni | June 30th, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    What a creative idea . Your layman’s terms are perfect for those people who want to understand without getting so technical that it makes wine dirnking a burden and not the enjoyment it should be.