Wine: Toning down the tannins

From making your mouth pucker in astringent agony to giving it a velvety caress, a wine’s tannins can be the source of pleasure or pain. While some of New Zealand’s earlier red wines had more grip than a Masonic handshake, there’s been a textural revolution in our vineyards that has transported more of our wines into the realms of the silky rather than the severe.

A sensation rather than a flavour, the tannic spectrum is evoked by terms such as chunky, grippy and chewy, to fine, supple and silky. As in a strong cup of tea, which also contains tannins, they produce a drying sensation in the mouth when they react with proteins in the saliva.

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