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,
I often come across the word “grip” in describing wine. What does it mean?
—H.F. Chew, Malaysia
It depends on the context, but “grip” is usually a positive note, referring to the pull on the sides of your mouth you get, particularly when drinking a red wine. It’s a way to describe a wine’s structure, and when I hear “grip,” I usually assume one is talking about tannins, though sometimes a white wine with high acidity can give a gripping sensation.
Grip is good, a welcome firmness. It gives definition and texture to wine, similar to descriptions like traction or backbone. It helps wines avoid seeming flabby, though with too much grip a wine might veer towards drying.