We’ve been using the word ‘texture’ incessantly since the new babies from Atlas Swift arrived so, what better time to unpack what that means.
It’s the ‘fabric’ of wine
When we say texture, we mean how the wine feels in your mouth, which can differ quite a lot between wines. Think of how different fabrics feel when you rub them between your fingers – some are cool and smooth, letting your fingers glide easily over them. Others are rough and bumpy, catching on your fingers.
Same thing with wine in your mouth! Does your wine swish around smooth as silk, or catch on every surface like hessian? It is plush like velvet or light and ethereal like a lace curtain?
Spinning a yarn
Texture comes from primarily 2 places: the grape itself and the winemaking. The wool you choose and what you knit with it.
Let’s think of wool as the grape here. You can have all kinds of wool all suited to different purposes. Some thick, some thin, some smooth, some a little more rustic. Same with grapes – each has their own inherent character that will contribute to what finally ends up in your glass (things like tannin, sugar content and acid).
Picking a pattern
Once you have your wool, you pick the right needles and follow a pattern to make a scarf, a hat, a pair of gloves. That’s the winemaking part of things. Here are a few of the things that impact texture in a wine:
- What you choose to ferment your wine in. This can be something neutral like a stainless steel or cement tank or something that imparts more texture, like an oak barrel
- Whether you choose to keep the stems on your bunches of grapes or not
- How hard you press your grapes
- How long you let the skins hang out with the juice
- How often you push the skins back down into the juice - similarly to how pulp floats to the top of freshly squeezed orange juice, the skins do the same in wine
- Whether you’re putting your wine through processes like filtering (think coffee filter) and fining (making the wine clear)
- How old the wine is
Of course, there are plenty more sciencey things that impact all of this - but hopefully this helps unpack this wonderful wine word.