Where Does a Wine's Structure Come From?

Where Does a Wine's Structure Come From?

I was tasting through some very elegant and interesting California wines yesterday and found myself deep in discussion about what gives a wine its structure. Think of structure as a wine’s frame or backbone-the architecture that holds all of a wine’s components together. This is a somewhat esoteric topic, but in my eyes, structure in wine is almost always derived from two main components: acid and tannins.

Acidity gives wine its shape, making it piercing, taut, and linear, if the acidity is high, or flabby, blousy, and broad if the acidity is lower. Tannins on the other hand, contribute to a wine’s structure in more of a textural sense. Wines that are high in tannin will give the impression of dryness, causing that velvety friction on your gums and on the insides of your cheeks. Wines that are low in tannins, on the other hand, will appear soft and round in the mouth-again a nod to texture.

The best wines out there strike the perfect balance between acid structure and tannin structure, which together contribute to a wine’s overall mouthfeel.

Watch this video below to see a perfect example of a wine that demonstrates what I mean by acid structure.

And watch this video below to see tannin structure in action.


  1. I agree that acidity and tannins are the two most important components in the structure of a wine. I also include bitterness and alcohol in the calculation.

Leave a Comment