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Texture in wine - How important is it?


I have a habit of sometimes talking of a wine’s texture. Generally to the amusement of everybody else at the table. However, I do fine texture to be a really important part of a wine’s enjoyment and characteristics, only that in many cases we tend to not discuss it very often or we don’t have the the tools to analyse it in the same way that we do with smells and tastes.

So I just found an article about wine textures by Jon Bonné who I think is one of the most forward thinking writers in wine at the moment. Here is the article from the excellent Punch Drink website:

I particularly enjoyed the technical part of it and how different wine making techniques result in different textures in wine.

One thing that has caught my attention when visiting winemaker in France is that they sometimes use very accurate language to refer to textures in wine. Silky tannins, grainy tannins, viscosity, and even wetness! (Yes, in a liquid, but I kind of like it).

Anybody else have experience any other interesting terms to refer to a wine’s texture? Any French members here that can through some light on the complex world of French textural descriptions of tannins? And would someone prefer a wine over another based on texture?


I’ve always liked ‘soupy’.

As a descriptor, that is - not as a quality…!


I suspect that one of the main reasons I prefer an Alsatian Pinot Gris to an Italian Pinot Grigio is the huge difference in texture/mouthfeel. I don’t know whether it’s a conscious decision, but textuturally, the feel of a ‘fat’, slightly oily Pinot Gris is much more pleasurable than the lighter, thinner Italian version.
Just a guess, though…


Funny. There are often wines that I consider too “thin” and therefore don’t like much. I can’t think of any I’ve ever considered too thick (unless they have a lot of sediment!).


On my first ever trip to the Maconnais, I recall tasting some Macon Rouges which I found ‘thin’, too acidic and showing texture which was too diluted.
When it came to tasting various examples of St Veran, in the great majority exhibited a clean fresh character , excepting one wine which was ‘fat or flabby’ in mouthfeel.


That’s a good comparison actually. I suspect the more oily character of the Alsatian Pinot Gris might be partly due to lees aging or a more complete malolactic fermentation.


I’m with you on the thin wines, and I certainly enjoy a richer texture with balance. I have recently found the texture of many Portuguese reds (especially from the Douro) to have an excessively coarse texture, almost grainy. Which I must say, wasn’t to my taste. They also had a heavy mouthfeel, a viscosity that seemed almost balsamic. All provably due to over extraction of the skins and late picking.


Douro reds can certainly come with chunky tannins, especially in hot years. After all, these are effectively vintage ports that were instead fermented right out! Against that, though, they don’t take a huge amount of time to ameliorate in bottle, at least as judged by the maturation period of vintage ports of yesteryear.

I rather like firm tannins in a wine - they add to the wine’s utility with certain foods, but you have to get the right food to go with them. Not wines for sipping on their own.


That’s a very interesting point about tannins and food. Just like you said, I think wine needs tannins but also acidity to pair with food. Although, I find many “Parkerised” red wines to be almost too heavy for most food (as it happens to plenty Portuguese reds).

Perhaps it also depends on the type of tannins? For example, green tannins as a result of whole bunch fermentation would be harsher to the palate on a young wine than oak tannins.


Really interesting article but one that, for me, highlights a perceived issue without really answering the questions it raises. Criticism of words like “mouthfeel” and “smooth” are one thing but what ‘should’ we be saying? A good read nonetheless, thanks for posting the link

We shared a wonderfully silky smooth red a few days ago which was well made and delightful, although when the food came I wondered if I’d prefer something a little more grippy to match it

Is there an example of a poor quality wine being too smooth? Not sure. I’d certainly seek that particular wine out again based on its texture though


Totally agree with you. I also see the article as a starting point. It is a subject that we are not used to talking about that often as the language of wine tends to be dominated by smell and taste.

A wine I certainly enjoy for its texture is Hidalgo’s Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana. The wine combines an oily texture with a salty finish that seems to stimulate the palate in a very complex way.


I’ve been pondering this whole thing since yesterday, and I am inclining towards what @NickP just wrote. I don’t really understand what Jon B objects to in the use of “mouthfeel”, which does seem to overlap largely with what he refers to as texture.

A number of points -

  1. A lot of tasting terms are best regarded as impressionistic, not as literal - e.g. “salty”

  2. Some of what Jon B describes can be adequately covered by structure and taste, both taken generally -

  3. …though not completely, e.g. the different properties of different types of tannin.

So I suppose what I am wondering now is - where is the problem? Does mouthfeel not cover things, taken with the above?