Tannin Additions: Tips from the Pros

A grape’s tannin structure is impacted by varietal, terroir, and growing conditions. Sometimes, grapes lack the tannins desired, and when that happens winemakers have the option of techniques to maximize extraction, adding tannins, blending, and more. Three pros share their approach in this issue’s “Tips from the Pros.” Phil Plummer, Winemaker at Montezuma Winery in Seneca Falls, New York I use exogenous fermentation tannins on almost all of our red wines, vinifera whites, and even some hybrid whites. For red wines, I add fermentation tannins as soon as I crush the grapes. For whites, I generally wait until after the fermentation has started.  The purpose of fermentation tannin for red wine is almost purely sacrificial: Adding them at crush helps to scavenge away proteins that would otherwise bind and remove the natural tannins and anthocyanin that are present in the grapes. By removing proteins at crush we’re making the job of co-pigmentation more efficient and effective. For white wines, fermentation tannins do a really good job of refining structure, preventing hazes, and assisting in the release and stabilization of aromatic compounds.