Let’s talk tan­nins

go! - - Food - – Cathy Marston

Tan­nin is a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring com­pound found in seeds, bark, leaves and fruit skins. It’s what gives cer­tain red wines that grippy, mouth-dry­ing feel­ing when you take a sip. That doesn’t sound too pleas­ant, but tan­nins are nec­es­sary if a red wine is to age. Luck­ily, they’re nearly al­ways softened when you drink a red wine with food. Here are three wines with dif­fer­ent lev­els of tan­nin – see which one suits you best… If you don’t want any­thing to do with tan­nins and you pre­fer your reds soft, fresh and fruity, then the Stel­len­bosch Hills Polka­draai Pino­tage/Mer­lot 2017 (R44,50) is up your al­ley. It’s got a teensy bit of sugar, which makes it fat­ter and rounder. I love the com­bi­na­tion of pino­tage and mer­lot, which de­liv­ers a de­li­cious mouth­ful of ripe black fruit with some smoky, spicy notes. At this price, I’ll buy a case! A wine with smooth tan­nins – of­ten de­scribed as “vel­vety” – is eas­ier for most peo­ple to han­dle. The Von­del­ing Mon­so­nia 2015 (R215) is a blend of mainly shi­raz with some other Rhône Val­ley grapes. It’s a de­li­cious, black-pep­per spice bomb in a glass. The fruit seems to wrap around the tan­nins, giv­ing the wine a plush, rich mouth-feel. The tan­nins also add ter­rific length to this lovely wine. So those are the two more gen­tle op­tions… If you want some­thing big, bold and ut­terly bril­liant, you need to try the Tokara Di­rec­tor’s Re­serve Red 2013 (R400). It’s ac­tu­ally a sin to drink this wine now when it has years of po­ten­tial ahead (thanks to those tan­nins), but if you can’t wait then open a bot­tle for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion, sit back and in­dulge in the re­fined black fruit and the el­e­gant, end­less fin­ish.

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