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Dear Dr. Vinny,
When experts say that a wine has structure for aging, what exactly do they mean? Is this the balance between good tannins and fruit?
—John, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Structure and balance are related but distinct. Wine can be analyzed in terms of its components, soft (think fruit, sugar and alcohol) and hard (tannin and acidity). To be pleasing, these components must be in balance. But to have the stuffing to be age-worthy, they need to be both balanced and present in sufficient concentration. A wine with good balance of fruit and tannins, but with very low levels of extract, is not a good candidate for aging. Similarly, a young wine with lots of tannins, but not much fruit, will probably not age well; the fruit will have faded long before the tannins soften.
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