Let's clarify an adjective often used improperly to describe one of the most characteristic and therefore interesting properties of wine. Therefore, to say that a wine is tannic means that it is particularly rich in tannins , substances present in the peel and grape seeds. These compounds belong to the family of polyphenols, which have beneficial effects on health by virtue of their antioxidant properties. By passing into the wine, especially the red one during their extraction from the skins by maceration, the tannins give the wine a greater structure but also an astringent , appealing taste. In fact, they are able to bind to some constituents of saliva, causing them to precipitate and "drying" the palate. This phenomenon causes a fairly recognizable sensation of dryness, the same that can be perceived by biting an unripe persimmon or pomegranate grains. Even the wood of the barrels can give tannins to the wine, contributing to their greater presence in the final wine.

But is a tannic wine appreciated or not?

Tannicity, this characteristic considered negative as it gives astringency, scientifically consisting in a loss of lubrication of the oral cavity, can sometimes be desired. It all depends on the balance achieved as a whole between the tannicity of a wine with its alcohol content, its softness and the sense of maturity of the fruit.

It is therefore good that a wine contains tannins, most of them have them, but these must never become predominant, under penalty of the appearance of unpleasant "hard" and angular sensations.

To keep this wine under control, we generally act on three aspects:

  • first of all the grape from which the wine is obtained: in fact there are some varieties that are more predisposed to give tannins, as they naturally have a very high charge of tannins. Examples of vines with a high tannin content are Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat, but in particular Sagrantino di Montefalco and Tazzelenghe , so tannic as to take on the proverbial nickname of "cut tongues" . On the other hand, wines like Pinot Noir poor in tannin have less structure but also more space to focus on attributes of elegance.

  • Second aspect that affects the tannicity of a wine is the duration of maceration : the longer it is, the more tannins are extracted.

  • Third: the refinement container . Wood contributes to increasing this sensation more and more with the degree of roasting.


In conclusion, a tannic wine is not necessarily a bad wine. It all depends on how it is made. Now that we know what it means, we can learn to defend ourselves from those who advise against drinking a red wine just because it is tannic. All red wines are, the important thing is that they are not too much.

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