What You Should Know About “Tannic” Wines

Wine terminology can be confusing. Case in point: Champagne labeled “extra dry” actually is quite sweet. No wonder we get so many questions about it.

So I thought it might be a good idea to close out this week by answering one of the more common vinous queries…

QUESTION: I’ve heard many wines described as “tannic” and, quite frankly, that doesn’t sound real appetizing to me. What does it mean when a wine is tannic?

ANSWER: It’s a reference to the high level of tannins in the wine—almost always red wine, by the way. Tannins can make a wine seem astringent or bitter, particularly when the wine is young.

What are tannins? They’re a group of chemical compounds present in grape skins, stems and seeds, as well as in newer oak barrels. If your mouth “puckers” when you take a sip of wine, chances are good that tannins are responsible.

But tannins play a key role in aging red wine, and over time they’ll subside or “lay down,” leaving a more balanced wine that can show off all of its engaging aromas and flavors.

Occasionally, you’ll read a review of a red wine indicating that the wine’s tannins are “resolved.” That’s a clue that the wine is ready to enjoy now. Conversely, if you encounter a phrase such as “big tannins” or “big tannic monster,” that’s a sign that the wine would benefit from a few months to a few years of additional aging before opening.

All of us at Vinesse hope you and yours have a great Labor Day holiday weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday.

Posted in Wine FAQ
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