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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have been studying wine for nearly 30 years and am still baffled by some of the descriptions used by tasters. Question: What are "round tannins"? Versus what? Square tannins?

—Bill C., Waterville, Maine

Dear Bill,

Wine lovers might wax poetic at times, but their intention is rarely to sound obscure or to baffle someone with their descriptors. Tannins, as you may know, are the mouth-puckering group of compounds found in the skins, stem and seeds of grapes, as well as in oak barrels. Tannins give wine backbone and structure. Because of the balance of tannins with other components, such as sweetness, body, and acidity, this sensation can seem smooth and round. Other times, tannins stick out and can seem coarse, rough or chewy.

—Dr. Vinny

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