Ever tried a wine, then felt like your mouth was about to dry out? Then you’ll know about tannins. Tannins come from the skins, pips and stalks of the grape and when they’re at high levels in a wine, they can feel slightly bitter and astringent – much like a really, really strong cup of tea. Different grape varieties have different levels of tannin. Here’s a few with a little extra grip.
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
The king of the wine world, this thick skinned red grape sure knows how to pack a punch. Tannins give extra body to a wine and they certainly produce firmer and fuller wines in this case. It is responsible for many of the most powerful wines from Bordeaux in France and the Napa Valley in the USA.
Just down the road from Bordeaux, in the appellation Madiran, you’ll find this monster of a grape, capable of blackening both your tongue and your teeth. Its high natural tannin levels are well known in the South-West of France and the wines pair beautifully with local duck dishes. In Uruguay the grape has found a second home where the tannins are a little softer.
3. Syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz)
A bit like Cabernet Sauvignon, but a lot juicier and spicier. This meaty grape has won many fans with its power fruit and solid structure. It has smaller berries, which make the tannins stand out more, and it producers wines which are full bodied and long lived. It takes centre stage in France’s Northern Rhone region and in The Barossa Valley in Australia you’ll find chocolate, jammy wines with softer tannins.
The grape behind the famous wines from Barolo and Barbaresco in Italy’s beautiful Piedmont region. Don’t be fooled by its lighter colour, compared to those above, or its delicate perfume, these are wines fully loaded with firm, grippy tannins. Tannins play an important role in helping a wine age well over time, and wines made with Nebbiolo starts to really blossom after 10 or more years maturity.
Found in the south of Italy and nicknamed the ‘Barolo of the South’, this deep and dark grape balances its assertive tannins with generous, ripe fruit. Taurasi is the DOCG which gets all the attention, but you’ll find plenty of mouth filling examples around Campania and Basilicata.