Tannin

A small quantity of tannin will vastly improve the taste of most wines, giving them a zest or "bite" which is otherwise lacking, particularly in flower, root and grain wines. It is the tannin in a wine which gives an impression of dryness in the mouth after drinking; if the right amount of tannin is present, the wine will be supple and zestful, if too little, flat, insipid and characterless, if too much, harsh, astringent and bitter. Tannin is also an essential constituent if a wine is to have good keeping qualities.

Tannins come from the skins and stems of fruit—particularly red fruit, and wines made from all red fruit, and from elderberries, bilberries, sloes, damsons, plums, apples, pears, grapes, and oak leaves are liable to be rich in tannin, and usually need none added. In flower and grain wines add one teaspoon of grape tannin, a few oak leaves or pear peelings, or one tablespoonful of strong tea per gallon. It is not really practicable for the amateur to test for tannin content.

Sometimes, particularly with elderberry wines, one has an excess of tannin. This is caused by using too much fruit, by soaking for too long a period, or pressing too hard. If a finished wine is a little too harsh, it can often be vastly improved by the addition of a little sugar or glycerine, but if it is far too harsh it should be fined with gelatine or blended with another softer wine.

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