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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I read your recent answer to "velvety tannins," and I have a tannin question of my own: What do they mean by "ripe tannins," especially when your answer said "tannins are something you feel, not taste"? Ripe seems to be a taste feature, such as a ripe banana (or any other fruit) tastes much different than an unripe fruit.
—Gerardo A., Pasadena, Calif.
I believe that ripeness is something you can feel as well as taste. Ripeness is more than just flavors getting sweet—there's a phenolic, physiological ripeness that occurs too. To take your banana analogy a step further, if you've ever bitten into an unripe banana, you get both a green, tart flavor and a crunchy texture. Crunchy banana = unripe. Likewise, as grapes ripen, their tannins get softer and more supple.
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