Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
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.