Why Are Tannins So Crucial to Red Winemaking

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Winemaker Matt Smith from Kendall Jackson, located in Sonoma Wine Country, answers a question that many wine lovers may have asked themselves at one point or another "Why are tannins so crucial to red winemaking?"

The answer might be bit technical in nature, but the result are red wines we love to drink!

kj_Blog_Tannins.jpgExcerpt from recent KJ Blog Post:
In 2010, Kendall-Jackson participated in a seminar on high-altitude winemaking. The winemaking team here was particularly eager to participate because we wanted to confirm what we've known all along: great red wines are particularly rich with tannins. And, for us, that means high altitude vineyards.

Winemaster Randy Ullom reported some of the findings from this research we conducted on tannins. Our philosophy has always been that the best wine comes from the best land; a core tenant of this philosophy is that mountain grapes produce better wines. A large part of that has to do with how much tannin is found in those particular grapes.

So, just what is a tannin?

In general terms, we define tannin as any substance that precipitates protein. Tannins in wine will react with the salivary protein in our mouth and precipitate (or coagulate) with it. The result is reduced slipperiness, or a feeling of roughness on the tongue and cheeks. They also are responsible for the weight, texture and stable color in red wines. As a result, wines that are richer in tannin and color are generally judged to be higher quality and more desirable.

Winemakers pay very close attention to the tannin levels found in the red wines they create. From careful extraction to terroir to judging the maturity of grape skins and seeds at Harvest, experienced winemakers who craft excellent wines have a lot to monitor in order to ensure the tannins are balanced and pleasant to the consumer.

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