What the heck are tannins and why do people keep talking about them?
Tannins are defined as a complex chemical substance also known as tannic acid. Have you ever eaten a piece of fruit and your mouth puckered or suddenly got really dry? If so, then you’ve experienced tannins. Tannins are most commonly found in cider, wine, coffee and beer.
Not only do tannins create a dry puckering effect on the palette, they (most importantly), provide body, structure, texture and mouthfeel. A cider without tannic acid would be sweet and just fall slightly flat. Here at 2 Towns we believe that having a balance of sweetness and acid (tannins) creates the perfect robust cider.
Traditionally the more robust, complex and tannic ciders are made with heirloom blends of apples. It’s something that we’re passionate about; getting back to the roots of traditional cider making with old world style processes. As we move forward, traditional or heirloom ciders are becoming more and more popular. The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) defined a heirloom cider as made “primarily from multi-use or cider-specific bittersweet/bittersharp apples, heirloom varieties; wild or crab apples.” Heirloom ciders come in many different styles and profiles, but tannins play a part in all of them one way or another. Two examples of heirloom ciders with very different tannin levels would be our Cidre Bouche and our 10th Anniversary. Our Cidre Bouché, a traditional French keeved style cider, has a rich, apple forward profile that lingers on the tongue. The tannins from the bittersweet apples used gives the cider a rounded profile, so that the sweetness of the apples is smooth as opposed to cloying. In comparison, our 10th Anniversary demonstrates what a well balanced, low tannin heirloom cider is. While it isn’t very high in tannins, the cider does have a wonderful blend and balance of bittersharp and bittersweet flavors that bring bright aromatics and flavor from old world apples. Higher levels of tannin would have made for a completely different mouthfeel experience, leading to a less balanced cider.
So you may be wondering…where are tannins found within an apple? Tannins are found throughout the fruit which includes the skin and flesh. For comparison, in wine grapes, tannins are found more commonly in the skins. Frequently, wines are aged on the skins/pulp after pressing the juice to bring out a more complex flavor and mouthfeel. Speaking of tannins in wine, our Bold Leaf Pinot Noir is an awesome example of what tannins can do for wine. Crafted specifically to be enjoyed as soon as it is opened, this wine is choc full of dark cherry, chocolate, and toasted oak aromas and flavors. At room temperature this wine’s high tannin content really helps it stand up to and pair with any meal you have planned.
We find that in our cider making process having a balance of sugar and tannins is ideal. Upfront you can tell there is sweetness but it’s not overwhelming. That’s where the tannins come in, to bring some structure and some more dry characteristics which creates the perfect robust cider.
We showcase what’s possible with a tannic balance in some of our traditional cider & wine, such as Kingston Black & Cidre Bouche and also our Bold Leaf Pinot Noir.