The Bitter Truth about Phenolics

Phenolics is a cool word to kick around while chatting about wine. Phenolics in reference to wine are chemical compounds derived from grape stems and seeds. Phenolic compounds can also be present after fermentation through oaking or additives. The compounds are responsible for wine’s unique pigments, mouthfeel and overall structure. Without phenolics, we would be simply be enjoying sugar berries (and we save those exclusively for our arugula salad).

High tannin Sangiovese Grapes from Yavapai College Vineyard, AZ

Tannins: are the chemical compound most commonly talked about in reference to wine. Tannins are found in the stems and seeds of red varietals and can be added after fermentation through barreling. Tannins bond to the proteins in your saliva and trigger that dry mouthfeel. Most sommeliers attribute the classic red wine and steak pairing to the tannin and protein relationship. They just make the perfect coupling! Tannins add a complex texture to a wine. A Cabernet described as ‘plush’ or ‘silky’ might have a highly balanced tannic structure where the tannins are present but are not astringent. Whereas, a ‘bitey’ or ‘chewey’ Mourvèdre might be mouth-puckeringly bitter.

Anthocyanin: are responsible for pigmentation. Wine varietals like Malbec, Cabernet, Tempranillo and Mourvèdre are all classically deep red and purple due to their higher acidity and higher concentration of anthocyanins. Softer skinned grapes like Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, and Grenache still carry the phenolic but in trace amounts. Anthocyanins are present in white grapes but often not enough to change the chemistry.

Today’s wine feature is the El Libre Malbec by Revolution Wine Company from Mendoza, Argentina. It has an ABV of 13.5% and is considered a dry option. After today’s phenolics lesson stop into Dodici and enjoy this wine by the glass or by bottle. The Argentinian Malbec is a stunning inky, purple with some tannic notes but, quite soft compared to most French counterparts. You will notice some notes of chocolate, tobacco and salinity on the nose. Upon first sip you will savor some dark fruits with a balanced herbal finish!

For a Dodici pairing I would opt for the meat and cheese board or the beet salad. The beet salad showcase earthy qualities of both the root vegetable and the wine. The creamy chèvre will balance out any tannins for a velvety finish! Other fab choices would be the Veggie Supreme, the Fun Guy or Sweet Sting.

Don’t forget to make a reservation at Dodici! See you next week.

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