Definition - What does Structure mean?

Structure, in the context of wine, describes the components that form the foundation, or backbone, of a wine. Acidity, tannins, alcohol content and residual sugars are the main elements that contribute to a wine's structure.

The blending of these components will either complement or overpower each other. Wines with a strong, discernable structure age well and are most suitable for cellaring.

WineFrog explains Structure

Identifying a wine's structure is an important aspect of wine tasting, although it is one of the most difficult aspects to pin down. Wine enthusiasts often have differing opinions on what makes up a particular wine's structure and to what degree. There are four components that most producers and tasters focus on for structure:
  • Acidity contributes to the shape of a wine. Wines with high acidity tend to be bold and tight, while low acidity causes wines to have less shape and a flatter taste.
  • Tannins are associated with a wine’s texture, or how a wine feels in the mouth. Large amounts of tannins produce a dryer wine. A low tannin content creates a softer and rounder wine in the mouth.
  • Alcohol levels also contribute to the texture and body. The more full-bodied a wine is, the higher the alcohol content.
  • Sweetness in a wine is the result of residual sugars. The level of residual sugars contributes to the body of a wine. Sweeter wines have a higher amount of residual sugars than dry wines. However, some dry-tasting wines can have deceptively high amounts of these sugars. The sugars can be disguised by certain levels of acids and tannins.
The best wines are those that strike a harmonious balance between the acidity levels, tannins, alcohol content and residual sugars. A balanced wine is one with a firm, stable structure.

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