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Dear Dr. Vinny,
What does a reviewer mean when they say a wine is "firm"?
—John, Albuquerque, N.M.
A firm wine is one that has noticeable structure or texture, probably from the presence of tannins, but it can also be from a wine’s acidity. It’s neither a positive nor negative term, just a description of its structure, or how the wine feels in your mouth.
A firm wine tugs on the sides of your mouth, or has a grip, the sort of sensation that makes you sit up straight. I typically see young red wines described as firm, and “muscular” is a similar term. On the other end of the spectrum would be a soft or supple wine.
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