What the "F" are tannins?
What are tannins? Tannins come from the skin of the grape and result in a wine giving you a sort of dry, cottonmouth type of feeling. They are prevalent in red and orange wines where the juices are fermented in contact with the skins. Tannins can make a wine decadent and delicious, but they also help keep the wine alive.
What are tannins and why should we care?
Winos love to talk about the tannin content of a wine. Tannins give your mouth a dry feeling that results from the juices being in contact with the skins of the grapes while they ferment. The higher the tannin content of the wine, the dryer your mouth will feel when drinking it. That sensation can be a huge determining factor in how much you will like a particular wine.
Tannins also help keep the wine alive and age well
Tannins can act like a natural antioxidant for the wine, helping to keep the wine alive over time. The tannins in a wine will calm down over time, making the wine smoother to drink while maintaining the quality and deliciousness. Tannins help the wine age, so wines that are natually high in tannin content, like Cabernet Sauvignon for example, have tremendous aging potential. If you are into that sort of thing.
Tannins can set the mood, and match the food
Knowing whether or not a wine has a high tannin content can be crucial in pairing a wine with food. They are the very reason you would not pair a Cabernet Sauvignon with a lightly grilled fish, but would scale mountains to enjoy with a good juicy steak. Wines that are high in tannins tend to have a broody, solemn mood to them so they are great for sharing in occasions with serious and intellectual conversation. You may want to stay away from these wines on a night out though, or you will have a serious headache the next day.