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3 Things To Know About Tannins.

February 10, 2017


Do you like your wines big, bold and with a bit of a bite?  If so,  you are a tannin fan.   Fan or not there are 3 basic concepts you might want to understand about tannins.

What are Tannins anyway?

Tannins are a chemical compound predominately found in red wine.  A tannin is more of an experience than a taste.  References like “jaw clenching”, biting, chewy, have been used to describe drinking a wine loaded with tannins.   Tannins are a bit mysterious but it is very clear that some wine drinkers love, love, love, their tannins and some really don’t like them at all, and I mean they can’t even tolerate a tannin near their wine glass… at all.

For those that are not fans of tannins be reassured, it has nothing to do with your wine sensibilities.  It has more to do with your saliva.  Yes, your saliva, there are proteins that bind with tannins and there are people with more sensitivity to tannins than others. It’s a personal thing.


*chemical structure image from Dr. Harbertson’s, wine chemistry class, WSU enology certification 2015-2016

How did that tannin get in your wine?

Tannins are formed in the vineyard and brought out through the winemaking process. Tannins are found in the skin and seeds of the grape.   The skill and expertise of your favorite winemaker may emphasize or de-emphasize the number of tannins in a wine by controlling the skin and seed contact at harvest and crush.  So, if you hear a winemaker saying “we fermented whole clusters of fruit” there might be more than a few tannins in the finished wine.

Which wine varietals have the most tannins?

Each wine varietal varies in its ability to produce tannins in the vineyard.   Here are the top 5  “heavy on the tannin” varietals.  They are listed from most to least.

  1.  Cabernet Sauvignon
  2.  Zinfandel
  3.  Merlot
  4.  Syrah
  5.  Pinot Noir

Now that these basic concepts of tannins are spelled out and hopefully a little less mysterious it’s time to go out and taste some wine!


Refuge and Prospect 2013 Sheridan Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Or try their Into the Void a Cab. dominant blend.

Refuge and Prospect Winery is a small production, boutique winery located in the warehouse district of Woodinville’s Wine Country.   A bit off the beaten path.  Refuge and Prospect stand alone across the street from the other warehouse wineries.   Fun, quirky, great wine and an excellent, knowledgeable, tasting room staff.  Worth the trip to Woodinville!

19400 144th Ave NE Unit 6B
Woodinville, Wa 98072

(425) 949-7477

Open Friday – Saturday 12-6


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