• What is Structure?
    • Body 
    • Tannins
    • Alcohol
    • Acid
    • Other Structure Topics


STRUCTURE Relationship Between the Elements That Make Up a Wine’s Backbone. Think of it as a Framework That All the Flavors and Scents Hang On.

  • Gives Wine a Presence In Mouth, Without Structure Wine is Thin, Flabby.
  • Mouthfeel- Evaluation of Perception of Wine On the Palate.
    • (Mastication, Swallowing, Aftertaste)
  • With Flavor and Appearance We Talk About How Something Tastes and Looks Which Are Quantifiable and Straight Forward.  With Structure and Texture We Talk About How Something Feels Which is More Subjective.
  • Wines With Solid Structure Will Generally Age Well.
  • Wines With Poor Structure Are Unlikely to Improve With Age.
  • Without Ability to Smell Only the Structure of a Wine Will Be Perceived. (Sweetness, Tannins, Alcohol Level, Mouthfeel)
  • Residual Sugar (Sweetness vs. Dryness) Add to Wine Structure, Body, Texture
  • Wine Structure Scale Low   |   Medi-   |    Medium   |    Medi+   |    High
  • Wine Structure Descriptors Absent, Foundation, Back-Bone
    • Tannins,  Alcohol,  Acid,  Residual Sugar,  Body

BODY  A Wines Impression of “Weight” Upon the On the Palate and Tongue.

  • Effected by Viscosity, Extraction Levels, +Abv., Tannins, Sur Lie, Residual Sugar.
    • Higher Alcohol                  High Residual Sugar
    • Dissolved Solids               Tannin                                  
    • Polyphenols                      Fixed Acidy                        
    • Glycerol                             Minerals
  • Body Scale Thin   |   Body-   |    Body   |   +BODY    |     Full
    • Thin   |   Mid Weight   |   Full
  • Body Descriptors Body, Creamy, Full, Rich, Viscosity, Volume, Weight, Tight Hollow
  • Milk Scale- Compared Wine On Your Palate by Calibrating “Whole” Milk vs. “Non- Fat” Milk.
  • Water Scale- Is the Wine Fuller Than Water On the Palate or Thinner On the Palate.

TANNINS  A Naturally Occurring Phenolic Chemical Compounds In Wine That Have an Astringent or Mouth Puckering and Dying Effect On the Palate. Tannins Also Attribute Other Attributes to the Wine Drinking Experience, as Well as Contribute to the Ageability of a Wine.

Tannins Dehydrate Your Palate, Making You Pucker, Acidity Makes You Salivate.

  • Tannin Scale  Low   |   Medi-   |   Medium   |   Medi+   |   High
  • Grape Tannin Descriptors Astringent, Coarse, Smooth, Grainy, Grippy, Granular, Firm, Hard, Rough, Sand Paper, Fuzzy Teeth, Squeaky.
  • Tannins Are Found Naturally In Seeds, Stems and Skins of Certain Grapes Varieties. Tannins Can Also Be Extracted From Oak Barrels During an Extended Aging Process.
  • On a Molecular Level Tannins Belong to a Class of Chemical Compounds Called Polyphenols That Are Based On the Phenol Molecule Which is Itself Based On a Bensine Molecule. There Are About 8,000 Phenolic Compounds In Nature.
  • The Term Tannin Refers to Any Large Polyphenols Compound That Can Come Together by Binding to Proteins.
  • Tannins Are Responsible For Drying Your Palate Out, Leaving Your Mouth Feeling Dehydrated and Chalky With a Touch of Bitterness.  Tannins Can’t Be Smelt or Tasted, They Cause a Tactile Sensation. Tannins In Wine is More of a Feeling or Impression Than a Flavor. Tannins Can Be Felt On the Palate In Form and Grip. Think of Tannins In Association With a “Texture” Such as a Fabric Being Silky, Satin, Suede, Cotton In Felling.  Tannins Add to a Wines Structure, Color Pigmentation, Texture, Age-Ability, Antioxidant and Preservation Qualities.
  • White Wine Generally Have Low Tannins Because They Are Pressed Off the Skins Before Fermentation.
  • Tannins Diminish or Fall Out of a Wine Over Time.  Pigmented Tannins Polymerize/ Form Larger Chains. Eventually These Chains Get So Large/ Heavy That They Precipitate or Fall Out of the Wine or Resolve In the Form of Sediment.
  • Tannins Will Make Your Mouth Pucker Up, While Acid Makes Your Mouth Water.
  • Things With High Tannins: Tea, Blueberry, Blackberry, Grapes, Cranberries.
  • Tactile Impression is a Textural Description or Impression of Weight or Thickness On the Tongue or Sensory Impact On the Palate, Drying, Puckering, Mouth Coating.
  • Tannins Need Benefit From Oxygen Near the End of Fermentation to Soften Up Around the Edges.  Tannins Need Oxygen to Polymerize or Bind Together and Become One or Chain Together.
  • Adams-Harbertson Tannin Assay-  Measures Multiple Categories of Phenolic Compounds In Must and Wine.
    • Tannins, Phenolics and Color– All Be Assessed to Provide Winemakers For Decision-Making Related to Skin Contact (Pre & Post Fermentation), Fermentation Temperatures, Yeast and Nutrients.
    • Total Anthocyanins– Grape Skin Pigment, Indicative of Wine Color)
    • Free Anthocyanins– Anthocyanin That Bind With Tannins to Form Polymeric Pigments)
    • Bond Anthocyanins– Total Amount of Polymeric Pigments Found In the Wine That Affects Textural Qualities Like Mounthfeel, Density.


  • Tannin Management Starts In the Vineyard.
  • Seed Tannin Which Are Referred to as Catechin Are Not Desirable and Are Avoided During the Pressing Process.  This is Achieved by Not Breaking Open the Seeds During the Pressing Process.
  • Post Fermentation Maceration- Process of Building Tannin/ Structure to Wine After Fermentation.  This Can Last From 1 Day to 30+, Tasting Everyday is Needed to Assess.
    • Amount of Tannins Extracted From the Skins
    • How You Extract Tannins From Skins
    • How Oxygen Interacts With Tannins Over Time
    • What Type/ Quality of Oak Used
    • Condensed Tannin Any Tannins With Antioxidant Properties Occurring Naturally In Plants, Comprising Polymers of Flavonoids Linked by a Carbon to Carbon Bond.
    • Hydrolysable Tannin Type of Tannin That When Heated With Hydrochloric or Sulfuric Acids Yields Gallic or Ellagic Acid.
    • Polymerization- Process of Reacting Monomer Molecules Together In a Chemical Reaction to Form Polymers Chains or 3-Dimensional Networks.
    • Amount of Tannins
    • Ripeness of Tannins
    • Texture of Tannins
    • Type of Tannins
    • Where Tannin Hits On Palate

Bitterness vs. Astringency

Bitterness In a Wine Comes From Tannins, Astringency In a Wine Comes From Acid.

  • In Wine Making Tannins Are Preferred From Grape Skins and Not Seeds or Stems. Seed Tannins Need Ripening or They Remain Green and Soft and Can Impart Harshness. Tannins Are Noticeable When Wine is Young.  As Wine Ages Tannins Break Down, Smooth Out, Precipitate Out of Wine In the Form of Sediment. Young Reds Get Their Color From Pigmented Tannins and Anthocyanin’s, Both Decreases In Concentration as Reds Age.

OAK TANNINS Tannins That Are Imparted Specifically From Barrel Aging.

  • Oak Tannin Descriptors Opulent, Plush, Rich, Silky, Smooth, Supply, Velvety, Polished, Rounded
  • During Oak Barrel Aging, Tannins and Other Compounds and Flavors Interact, Leaching Out Into the Wine Adding Structure and Complexity. Over Time “Short-Chain Tannins” Join Together and Form “Long-Chain Tannins” and Eventually Fall Out of the Wine. This Process Smooths Out the Wine and Becomes Soft and Velvety On Palate.
  • Short Chain Grape Tannins Come From Skins, Seeds Stems…Are Noticed Immediately.
  • Long Chain Barrel Tannins Come From Oak Barrel Aging…Are Noticed Momentarily.
  • “Ripe Tannins” Water Soluble, Supple, Soften With Age.
  • Tannin Ripeness is Really Important With Assessing Harvest. Un-Ripe Tannins Give Green, Stalky Taste In Poor Vintages. Wine Makers Are Careful During Fermentation to Ensure They Don’t Extract Un-Ripe Tannins, “Non-Ripe Tannin” Are Not Water Soluble, Remain Harsh Over Time.
  • Different Tannins Textures Hit In Different Location In Your Mouth.   (Gums, Front of Mouth, Tongue, Front/ Back)

With Tannic Wines You Feel the Saliva Being Pulled Out of Your Mouth, It’s the Proteins In Your Saliva Precipitation the Tannins Out of the Wine.

  • HISTORY The Word Tannin Was First Used to Refer to Wood Tannins That Were Used to Tan Animal Hides Into Leather.
    • Red= Aglianico, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Malbec, Grignolino, Nebbiolo, Monastrell, Montepulciano, Petite Syrah, Petite Verdot, Sagrantino, Syrah, Tannat, Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional, Zinfandel
    • Red= Barbera, Gamay
    • White= White Grapes Are Low/ Medium In Tannins But Get Pressed Off the Skins Prior to Fermentation.
  • Whether or Not Tannins Are Perceptible In White Wine Depends Entirely Upon How or What Process the Wine Was Made.

Tannin” Refers to the Name of the Chemical Compound, “Tannins” Refer to the Chaining Together or Polymerization of Many Tannins.

    • Oak Barrels
    • Tannin Powder

Tannins Are a Wines’ Best Natural Preservation Method.

ALCOHOL  Colorless, Volatile, Flammable, Liquid That’s the Intoxicating Constituent of Wine and Other Alcohol.  Alcohol Can Be Measured by Volume (ABV.)

  • Ethanol is Main Alcohol In Wine and is the Main Intoxicating Agent In Fermented and Distilled Liquors.  Alcohol Also Has Industrial Uses In the Form of Solvents and Fuel. Alcohol Leans Wine Body and Mouthful and Gives Perception of Sweetness On Palate But Can Over Power Delicate Varietal Aromas if Unbalanced.  The Sensation of Alcohol Burns the Nose and Chest, Leaves “Warm” Aftertaste.
  • Unlike Tannins and Acid Which Diminish Over Time, ABV. Doesn’t Fall or Diminish.
  • Alcohol Can Be Expressed Technically, But Can Be Perceived Differently by Grapes, Regions, Styles, Producers, Time of Time and Food Pairing.
  • Methyl Alcohol- Secondary Alcohol Produced Via Fermentation.
  • ABV. Can Be Misstated On Labels by 1.5% if Between 7% and 13.9% Overall, and by 1% if True Abv. is 14% or Higher.
  • WHITE= Range– 5%-15%, Most Wines 10%-15% Abv.   |    RED= Range– 10%-17%
    • Wine is Generally 5% Abv. and is No More Than 17% Abv. Unless Fortified.
    • The Difference Between 14% Abv. & 15% Abv. is 6% Stronger Wine.

Breath Through Your Mouth to Assess a Alcohol Level of a Wine.

    • Low “Alcohol” (Under 10.9% Abv.) -Usually a Vinicultural Decision

      • **Wines Such as Sweet Moscato and Sweet Riesling Can Be 6%-8% Abv.
    • Moderate “Alcohol”  (11%-12.9% Abv.) -Sign of Moderate Climates
    • Elevated “Alcohol” (13-14.9% Abv.) -Sign of Warmer Climates
    • High “Alcohol” (+15% Abv.) -Usually a Vinicultural Procedure
    • Fortified “Alcohol” (+16% Abv.) -Achieved by Adding Grape Spirit
      • Alcohol Scale– -Abv./(Low)   |   Abv.(Medium)   |   +Abv. (High)
      • Alcohol Descriptors– Hot
      • +Abv. Have Viscous Texture and Contributes to Body, Fuller On Palate.

ALCOHOLIC STRENGTH- The Concentration of Intoxicant  Ethanol In a Wine. Generally Non-Fortified Wine is Between 9% – 16 % ABV., With Little Exceptions.  Alcoholic Strength Can Be Quantified as a Degree or a Percentage.

  • Potential Alcohol- Measure of a Must Which Equals its Total  Alcoholic Strength if the Sugar Were to Ferment Completely Dry.
  • Hydrometer -Device That Accesses Brix Level at Harvest.

ASSESSING ALCOHOL IN WINE- The One Test That All Wineries Must Perform, Regardless of Size or Budget is Measuring  the Level of Alcohol.  A Winery Can Use Any Method as Long as it Can Show the ABV. is Within Accuracy Limits.  +/- 1.5% For Wines Under 14% ABV., and 1% For Wines  14% – 24% ABV..

  • Ebulliometer- The Standard Method Used by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau TTB. For Alcohol Measurement to Determine Tax Class and the Declared Alcohol Measurement by Volume On the Label.

ALCOHOL VAPOR BLOWBACK- Alcohol Volatiles On the Palate Then Rises Up Through the Throat.

HIGH/ LOW ALCOHOL WINE  When Stylistically Producing a Lower Abv. Some Steps Can Be Taken In Order to Limit Final Alcohol Levels In a Finished Wine.

VITICULTURE- Focus of Managing Phenolics, Trying to Get the Grapes Flavored Developed Can Be Challenging Before Brix Levels Rise Too High.

  • Limit Nitrogen In Soil, Delay Irrigation Until Vines Are Stressed.
  • Wine Produced From Grapes Grown at Higher Latitudes Where Energy From Sun Is Lower Are Naturally Lower In Sugar/ Alcohol.
  • The Lower the Alcohol by Volume is the More Pronounced the Acid In the Wine.

VINICULTURE- The Use of Certain Yeast Can Promote Lower/ Higher Alcohol Levels.

DIFFERENT ALCOHOLS–  Alcohols Have Different lengths of the Carbon Chain.

      • Methanol
      • 1-Propanol
      • 1-Butanol
      • 2-Methyl-a-Propanol (Isobutyl Alcohol)
      • 2-Methyl-1-Butanol
      • 3-Methyl-1-Butanol (Isoamyl Alcohol)
      • 1-Hexanol
      • 2-Phenyl Ethanol
      • 2,3-Butanediol (Levo)
      • 2,3-Butanediol (Meso)
      • 1,2,3,4,5,6-Hexanehexol (D-Sorbitol)
      • 1,2,3,4,5,6-Hexanehexol (D-Mannitol)
      • 1,2,3,4,5,6-Cyclohexanehexol (Mesoinositol)
  • Glycerol/ Glycerine- Major By-Product of Fermentation and is Frequently the Next Most Abundant Component In Wine After Water and Alcohol.
    • The Higher the Sugar Content of the Must, the Higher the Concentration of Glycerol. (Wine From Hotter Regions Generally Have Higher Concentrations Than Wine From Cool Climates.)
  • DEMYSTIFYING PROCEDURE~  ~Assessing Alcohol In Your Glass of Wine.~
    • When Assessing ABV. In a Wine You Are Drinking Without Looking On the Label.   After Your Initial Swallow a Sip of Wine  Take In a Prolonged/ Shallow Breathe In. The Fumes From Higher Alcohol Wines Should Give a Warming Sensation to Your Chest.

ACID Group of Compounds Which Are Responsible For the Fresh, Sharp or Sour Attributes In a Wine and Helps Balance Sweetness and Bitterness.

ACIDITY- Level of Acid Present In the Wine (Austere, Sharp, Racy)

Acidity Makes You Salivate, Tannins Dehydrate Your Palate, Making You Pucker.

  • Acidity Scale Low   |   Medi-   |   Medium   |   Medi+   |   High
  • Acidity Descriptors Astringent, Bright, Flabby, Sour, Soft, Tart
  • Poorly Acidulated- Lacking Acid Either From Over Ripening of Sugars During Later Stages of Grape Development or Out of Balance From Too Much Tannin.
  • To Understand Acidity In Wine Think About How it Feels On Your Palate to Taste a Lemon. It’s a Extremely Sour/ Tart Taste That Adds Brightness and Liveliness In the Wine and Gives it a Refreshing Brightness. Grapes Are Generally High In Acidity, Until They Ripen, Accumulate Sugar and Becoming Balanced.
  • Too Much Unbalanced Acid Can Leave a Wine Sour or Tart. Too Little Acid Can Leave a Wine Flat, Lacking Freshness, and Don’t Age Well.
  • Is the Acidity In the Wine Constant or Does it Crescendo?
  • Acidity In Wines Brings Freshness, Energy and Life.
  • Acid In Wine Diminishes Over Time.
  • Acid Balances Sugar In the Wine.
  • Acid and Sweetness In a Wine Are Interrelated, As a Grape Ripens it Loses Its Acid and Becomes Sweeter.
  • Acid Protects Fruit and Preserves a Wine Over Time.
  • Acids Inhibits Harmful Bacteria.
  • Acids In Wine Are Highest Before the Start of Verason.
  • High Acid Gives Red Wine Astringent Taste and White Crispness.
  • High Acid, Makes Mouth Salivation.
  • Acidity In White Wine Helps it Age.
  • High Acid is a Major “Tell” to Cool Climate Region or Appellation.
  • Acids Are Important For the Growth and Vitality of Yeast During Fermentation.
  • Sulphur Shows In Low PH./ +Acid Wines.
  • 2 G./ L. is Low, 10 G./ L. is High, Usually Between 4 – 8 G./ L.
    • White= Albarino, Assyritko, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Grunner Veltliner, Hondarrabi Beltza, Muscadet, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino 
    • Red= Aglianico, Barbara, Carignan, Hondarrabi Zuri, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Xinomavro
    • White= Gewurtztraminer, Muller Thurgau, Viognier
    • Red= Garnacha

VITICULTURAL DISCLAIMER~ Acidity In Wine Can Be Manipulated to Be Higher or Lower by the Amount of Time Left On Vine.  Pick a Week Early and You Capture More Acidity, Wait an Extra Week and Some Acidity Will Subside.


    • Bitter– Is One of the 5 Taste Sensations
    • Sour– Is Indicative of Acidity


  • Range– Whites- 6.0 to 9.0 G./ L.   |   Reds- 6.0 to 7.0 G./ L.

FIXED ACIDITY- Total Acidity Minus Volatile Acid Minus Tartaric & Malic Acids

Astringency” vs. “Bitterness

Astringency is a Wine Comes From Acid, Bitterness In a Wine Comes From Tannins.


ACETIC ACID- Vinegar, Produced In Small Amounts During Fermentation Acetobacter Bacteria Converts Ethanol to Acetic Acid In Presence of Oxygen.

AMINO ACID- (Not a Traditional Acid) Organic Compounds That Are the Building Blocks of Proteins. Red Wine Contains 300-1.300 Mg./ L. of Amino Acids of Which Proline Accounts For Up to 85%.

BUTYRIC ACID- Produced by Bacteria, Rancid Butter Aroma

CARONIC ACID- Can Affect PH. And TA. Measurements


CITRIC ACID- Added to Wine Usually After Fermentation to Boost a Wines Total Acidity.



LACTIC ACID- Created From Malic Acid During Malolactic Fermentation, Rich and Buttery

MALIC ACID- Vegetable, Unripe Green In Wine, (Like Bitting a Unripe Green Apple)

  • Accumulates Early In Berry Development and Declines During g the Ripening Process Due to Dilution and Respiration.
  • Converts to Lactic Acid During Malolactic Fermentation.

SUCCINIC ACID- Common In Red wines, Produced During Fermentation With Yeast by Nitrogen Metabolism. Leads to Fruity Esters.

TARTARIC ACID- Ripe Acid In Grapes, Makes You Salivate, Crystal Deposits In White.

  • Tartaric Acid Only Appears Naturally In Grapes and Hawthorn Fruit.
  • One of Strongest Acid In Wine and Possesses the Ability to Resist the Impact of Other Acids.
  • Tartaric Acid Decreases as the Grape Bunches Hang and Ripens.
  • TA. Ranges In Wine-  White: ?  to ?  |   Reds: ?  to ?

AMINO ACID- Red Wine Contains 300 – 1,300 Mg./ L. of Proline Which is the Most Abundant Amino Acid, Followed by Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Arginine and V-Aminobutyric Acid.

POTENTIAL HYDROGEN Measure of Free Hydrogen Ion Activity In a Solution. (How Fast Are the Hydrogen Ion Moving Around In a Solution) PH. Corresponds to the Chemical Definition of Acidity and is Used to Gauge a Wines Acidity.

  • Potential Hydrogen PH. In Wine is Intensity of Acid.
  • Tararic Acid TA. In Wine is Quantity of Acid.
  • PH. Ranges In Wine-  White: 3.0 to 3.5  |   Reds: 3.4 to 3.7
  • Litmus Paper or PH. Paper is Used to Find PH. In Things.


  • PH. (PH. 0.00) Measure of Acid to Alkaline Balance and Strength In a Solution.
  • Based On a Scale of 1-14 (1 Being Acid, 14 Being Alkaline, 7 Being Neutral)
  • Low PH.= High Concentration of Acidity -Cool Climate= +Acid, -Body
  • High PH.= Lower Concentration of Acidity -Warm Climate= -Acid, +BODY
  • PH. In Grapes Vary by Temperature, Rainfall, Soil, Viticulture Practice, Varietal.
  • Important Statistic For Vine Growth, Ripeness, Taste, Look, Overall Health and Commencement of Harvest
  • Negative Logarithm of Hydrogen Ion Activity or Concentration.
  • Growing Cover Crops Between Vine-Rows Lowers PH. Levels and Slows Vigor.
    • Lemon Juice– 1.8 PH. to 2.3 PH.
    • Distilled Vinegar– 2.4 PH. to 3.0 PH.
    • Coca Cola– 2.8 PH. to 3.2 PH.
    • Wine– 3.0 PH. to 3.5 PH.
    • Tomato Juice– 4.1 PH. to 4.6 PH.
    • Coffee– 5.5 PH.
    • Milk– 6.8 PH.
    • Neutral Water– 7.0 PH.


MALOLACTIC CONVERSION ML. Lactic Acid Bacteria Converts “Hard” Malic Acid Into 2- Parts “Soft” Lactic Acid, and 1-Part Carbonic Dioxide Gas.

    • Sight:
    • Aroma: Butter, Yogurt Sour Cream
    • Palate: +BODY, Creaminess
    • Structure: Lower Acid
  • **Refer to “VITICULTURE/ Malolactic Conversion” For Detailed Information

SALINITY Amount of Absorbed Salt Present In the Soil of Grape Vines.

  • Salinity In Soil Can Occur by Proximity to Sea/ Ocean, Atmosphere or Irrigation Water.  Or Potentially Anytime It Doesn’t Rain Enough to Disperse the Surface Salt Deep Into the Soil Profile.
  • Vitis Vinifera is Susceptible to Salt Exposure Which Can Effects the Root’s Ability to Absorb Water. Irrigation Water High In Salinity Applied by Sprinklers Can Leave Vine Burned and Lead to Foliage Deterioration.  Small, “Perceivable” Amounts of Salinity In Wine Add Complexity or Nuance by Helping Balance a Wine by Tempering Fruit, Balancing Residual Sugar.
    • Riax Baixas DO.                            Pays Nantais  AOC.
    • Sardegna                                        Calares DO.
    • Mt. Edna DOC.                              Vinho Verde
    • Coteaux Du Languedoc           Canary Islands 
    • Mailbu Coast AVA.                     Valley De Guadalupe
    • Margaret River GI.                     Casablanca Valley

TEXTURE Describes the Mouthfeel or the Tactile Sensation On the Palate, Texture is a Physical Sensation That Adds Another Dimension to a Wines Descriptors.

    • Creamy                   Fat                   Lean          
    • Smooth                   Oily                  Opulent          
    • Rich                          Silky                 Supple        
    • Velvety                    Crunchy           Chewy
    • Alcohol                   Acid                Glycerol                  
    • Sugar                      Tannin

The More I Get Into Wine the More Weight and Texture Fascinates Me.

LANOLIN Fatty Substance Found Naturally On Sheeps Wool.  Viscous Mixture of Esters and Often Used to Describe a Wines Texture.

    • Grüner Veltliner             Chenin Blanc
    • Semillon

**Refer to “BIBLIOGRAPHY/ SOURCES” For Details On Scholarly Works Referenced