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Dear Dr. Vinny,
What is the difference between “chewy” tannins and those that are not?
—Jeff C., Atlanta
The “chewy” sensation comes in dense, big or full-bodied wines, where there’s a fleshy, thick texture to the wine that feels like you almost need to chew the wine before swallowing. I sometimes find myself actually making a chewing motion while tasting a chewy wine, so using the term comes very organically to me.
Chewy is usually a positive descriptor, indicating that even though there are prominent tannins in the wine, they’re not overwhelming. But using the term “chewy” together with “rustic,” “drying,” or “harsh” might indicate a distracting note in a wine that’s tougher to love. Tannins come in a variety of styles; they can also be silky, velvety, lush or supple. It varies based on how the tannins balance with the other elements in the wine, like fruitiness, body and acidity.
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