Ask a Wino – Tannin

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james hallC4 Deli Resident Bartender, Wine Purchaser and Texas native James Wall is the person you want on your best buddy list. Look out for his ‘red and white’ insight every Wednesday on ourWino Wednesday: Ask A Wino Q&A.

Q: What is tannin?

A:No, the “g” of tanning was not accidentally left off; tannin is in fact a real word closely associated with your favorite beverage. Tannin is a textural element that is responsible for creating a dry taste in certain wines. Although tannin is not a taste, rather a tactile sensation, it may add a certain bitterness and astringency along with a certain complexity to your wine. Tannin occurs naturally within plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves and fruit skins.

Tannin found in wine can come from one of two places, grapes or wood. Grape tannin comes directly from the skin. Overall, red wines tend to contain more tannin than whites, as a result of the fermentation process (the skins of red grapes are left on, giving extended contact of the grapes to the juice). Wood tannins dissolve directly into wine, most often when wine is stored in wooden barrels, primarily oak.

Now that you know the definition of tannin, what does it have to do with what you care most about, the actual consumption of the wine itself. Well, good news, wine that contains high levels of tannin is thought to pair well with dairy products such as cheese, the world’s best invention second to wine. This is because the mix of fat and proteins found in cheese softens the bitterness of tannin, while maintaining the wines complexity, creating a truly enjoyable experience. Hooray for cheese and wine pairings!