I explained, quite recently, what tannins are, how wine and our everyday life are affected. Still, stories and legends about tannins pollute the world of wine lovers, from allergies to hangovers or other ailments, more or less unimagined.
So it’s time to review some of the basic information we have, and that everyone who uses this word should know:
– There are no tannins, only tannins. This is the correct plural, there is no other, and tannins are most often referred to as tannins, not tannin, being a whole class of organic compounds (phenols) with different functions and names.
– Tannins are not an exclusive attribute of red wines. They are found in abundance in tea, coffee, dark chocolate, basil, mint, rosemary, oregano, but also strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, apples, peaches. So if you don’t get a hangover after a bowl of strawberries with whipped cream or cream, a cup of tea or a chocolate bar, don’t blame the tannins. You just forgot to dilute the excess alcohol with lots of water!
– On the other hand, if you have unpleasant reactions – pain, migraines, irritated colon – to the above, and especially to tea and coffee, you may indeed be one of the few people allergic to tannins.
– There is also an allergy to wine, which is not related to tannins, and is more likely to manifest itself in hives, nasal congestion, hot or tickling sensations on the lips, tongue or throat, increased difficulty in breathing or the onset of an asthmatic attack in those who suffer from this. This allergic reaction can be based on sulphites but is most often caused by certain proteins from grapes, noble rot or other moulds, yeasts or ingredients used in wine clarification.
– The taste of tannins is usually bitter, but the taste sensation related to them is rather dry in the mouth. Or blown gums, sandy mouth, paper cheeks or other more or less common expressions. This is due to the reaction between tannins and proteins in the buccal mucosa, whereby a percipitate is formed. It’s also the reason why meat thrives when drunk with wine and why red wines go so well with a roast of beef or pork. Moreover, the reaction described above is responsible for faster healing of mouth sores (operations, gum cuts) when red wine is consumed.
– Not only are tannins generally not harmful to health, they can even be beneficial, being used to prevent strokes.