Tannins not only give red wine that tongue-drying sensation, but they also act as antioxidants to protect your wine from oxidation. Plus, they contribute to the mouthfeel and texture of the wine. From grape skins to oak tannins, we’ll delve into each source and give you insider tips on how to manipulate these variables to create some truly astounding wines. So, grab a glass and get ready to deepen your understanding of wine tannins – cheers!

Understanding Wine Tannin

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Understanding Wine Tannin


Welcome to this comprehensive article on understanding wine tannin. If you’re a winemaker, you probably have some knowledge about tannins, but there might be some aspects that you’re not aware of. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of tannins, their sources, types, and how they can be manipulated to affect the final outcome of your wine. Tannins are an essential component of red wine, providing both sensory and preservative properties. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of wine tannins!

Understanding Wine Tannin

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What are Tannins?

Tannins are compounds found in grapes and other plant materials, primarily responsible for the astringency and mouthfeel in red wine. They are polyphenolic compounds that can bind to proteins and precipitate them, resulting in a dry and puckering sensation in the mouth. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds that play a crucial role in the structure, flavor, and aging potential of red wines.

Understanding Wine Tannin

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The Role of Tannins in Red Wine

Tannins serve several important functions in red wine. Firstly, they provide structure and contribute to the overall mouthfeel of the wine. Without tannins, red wines would taste watery and lack depth. Tannins also act as antioxidants, protecting the wine from oxidation and providing stability throughout the winemaking process. Additionally, tannins can enhance the aging potential of red wines, allowing them to develop complex flavors and textures over time.

Understanding Wine Tannin

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Common Sources of Wine Tannin

There are various sources of tannins in winemaking, each contributing unique characteristics to the final product. Let’s explore the most common sources of wine tannins:

Grape Skins

Grape skins are one of the most traditional and significant sources of tannins in winemaking. During the primary fermentation of red wine, the longer the wine is left in contact with the grape skins, the more tannin extraction occurs. Warmer fermentation temperatures also enhance tannin extraction. Cold soaking before fermentation or post-fermentation maceration on the skins can also increase tannin levels. It is important to be cautious about sulfide levels during these processes and consider protective measures against oxidation.

Grape Seeds

Grape seeds are another substantial source of tannins in wine. Generally, ripe grapes have brown seeds, which provide positive and desirable tannins. However, underripe grapes can have green seeds, resulting in astringent and tart tannins. It is crucial to ensure that the grapes used for winemaking are relatively ripe to obtain the desired tannin levels from the seeds.

Grape Stems

In some winemaking practices, the inclusion of grape stems during fermentation can contribute tannins. However, it is important to be selective about the stems used, as green stems can introduce harsh and unripe banana-like tannins. Brown stems are generally acceptable, but they may take a significant amount of time to round out and integrate into the wine. Including stems in fermentation can result in a well-aging wine with unique characteristics.


Oak is a significant source of tannins and adds complexity beyond just tannin content. After primary fermentation, many winemakers transfer the wine into oak barrels to enhance its flavor and texture. Oak barrels are expensive, but alternative options like oak chips and staves are available. Different types of oak, such as American, French, and Hungarian, offer varying levels of tannins and flavors like vanilla and smoke, depending on the toast level. Oak is generally considered a positive source of tannins, adding depth and aging potential to the wine.

Other Materials

Any tannin derived from non-grape materials, referred to as MOG (Material Other than Grapes), should generally be avoided. Leaves and other unwanted materials can introduce undesirable flavors and aromas into the wine. It is crucial to ensure that only high-quality grapes and grape-derived tannins are utilized in the winemaking process.

Understanding Wine Tannin

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Understanding wine tannin is essential for winemakers who seek to create exceptional wines. Tannins contribute to the structure, mouthfeel, and aging potential of red wines, while also acting as antioxidants and protecting against oxidation. By manipulating the sources and levels of tannins, winemakers can shape the final outcome of their wines. Grape skins, grape seeds, grape stems, and oak are the most common sources of tannins, each offering unique characteristics. It is important to consider the quality and ripeness of the grapes, as well as the desired aging potential and flavor profile of the wine. With a deeper understanding of tannins, winemakers can create outstanding wines that leave a lasting impression on the palate. Cheers to your winemaking journey and the endless possibilities that tannins offer!

Hi, I’m Carlie Brandywine

Hi, I'm Carlie Brandywine, the author behind Total Beverage. As a passionate lover of coffee, beer, cocktails, spirits, tea, and all things beverage-related, I've created this website to share my expertise and recommendations with fellow enthusiasts. At Total Beverage, you'll find a curated selection of products and gift ideas tailored to the needs and tastes of beverage lovers. Whether you're in search of coffee equipment, wine-related products, bar accessories, or home bar equipment, I've got you covered. Join me on this journey as we explore the world of beverages and find everything you need to prepare, serve, and savor your favorite drinks. Cheers!