Mailbag Tuesday – tannins and tummy-aches

Question: Does oaking result in tannins? Is that why oaked chardonnays sometimes hurt my tummy, as do oaked reds, like cabernet? Kevin, WA

Answer: Yes, tannins are found in Oak. Generally wine gets tannins in two ways – the skin, seeds and stems from the grapes (fruit) and oak. Chardonnay, and to a lesser degree Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Simillion, make up the white wine family that will often have some oak tannins, however, no white wines are fermented with their skins, seeds and stems, so they never get tannins from these sources. All red wines, sans roses, spend some time on oak, therefore they have tannins as a result of the fruit and the wood. One thing to remember – the softer tannins come from the wood and the harsher tannins come from the fruit. Cabernet is one of the more tannic of the red wines. Pinot Noirs tend to be less tannic.

Regarding Stomach Upset: Caffeine and tannin can cause stomach upset by stimulating the production of gastric acid. Lots more can be said about tannins, and they are found in teas, coffees, fruits, nuts, and many other foods. They are also the reason red wines are good for the heart, since (put very simply) the acid structure in them helps minimize plaque build up in the arteries.


3 Responses to “Mailbag Tuesday – tannins and tummy-aches”

  1. 1 Kevin
    January 12, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Interesting stuff! I’m not too fond of oak, both for the flavor it imparts and what it does to my tummy. My worst acid reflux experience ever involved consuming red wine with raw garlic-laden Spanish tapas, which resulted in explosive heart burn. I could literally feel the acid gurgling up my esophagus for about 18 hours, with the pain radiating to my ears. Highly unpleasant.

    That said, I’m cool with lightly oaked wines, but chardonnay is not my fave. You’ll need to introduce me to some less tannic reds that I’ll enjoy drinking, if only for the health benefits. :-)

    • 2 Patrick Bartlett
      January 13, 2010 at 11:03 am

      You need to search out lighter style red wines… Roses, Beaujolais Nouveau,New World Pinot Noirs, and young, fruit forward wines that aren’t meant to be aged. Also, go for older, aged wines – these are obviously more expensive, but one of the things you look for in an aged wine is softer tannins.

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Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


January 2010
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