Wine Word of the Week: Tannins

By Kori ~ November 29th, 2011.

This week’s 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.

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