grippy red wine

Get a grip on red wine

I love hearing new (to me, at least) wine lingo. And when I do, it sticks in my mind for a while. I recently chatted with a South African friend, and she used ‘Grippy’ to describe a younger red. I asked for the definition, and it follows:

Often associated with young red wines, when the tannins in the wine are well-noted, catch the side of your cheeks, and leave a dry feeling in your mouth when you’ve swallowed. It’s not always a bad thing! Many wine lovers prefer heavier, grippy wines.

Understanding “Grippy” Wines

Introduction to Grippy Wines

The world of wine is rich with descriptive terms, and “grippy” often catches the attention of enthusiasts and beginners alike. Originating from informal wine chats, ‘grippy’ describes a tactile sensation specific to certain red wines. This term is particularly prevalent among South African wine circles but is understood globally among connoisseurs.

What Makes a Wine “Grippy”?

‘Grippy’ wines are typically young reds known for their pronounced tannin structure. Tannins are natural compounds present in grape skins, seeds, and stems. When tannins are high in concentration, they interact with the proteins in saliva, leading to a drying, astringent sensation in the mouth. This sensation is most noticeable on the inner cheeks and gums. While some may find this characteristic slightly harsh, others seek it for its intensity and depth.

The Role of Tannins in Wine

Tannins not only contribute to the ‘grippy’ texture but also play a crucial role in wine’s aging potential. Wines with higher tannins are typically more robust and can mature gracefully over the years, developing more complex flavors and aromas. This aging transforms the aggressive tannins into a more mellow and refined profile, often sought after by wine lovers.

How to Identify a Grippy Wine

Identifying a ‘grippy’ wine is a sensory experience:

  • Visual Inspection: Look for deeper, more opaque red wines, which often have higher tannin levels.
  • Scent: A grippy wine may have a bold aroma with hints of dark fruits and sometimes a woody or earthy base.
  • Taste and Texture: The key indicator is the astringent sensation during and after sipping the wine. If your mouth feels dry and your cheeks pucker slightly, you are likely enjoying a grippy wine.

Food Pairings with Grippy Wines

indulgent fatty foods for grippy wine pairing

Grippy wines pair excellently with rich, fatty foods, which help to soften the astringency of the tannins. Try them with:

  • Cheese: Especially creamy and rich, like Brie or Camembert.
  • Meat: Red meats, barbecue, and game perfectly balance the tannins.
  • Hearty Vegetables: Dishes that include mushrooms or eggplants can also complement the boldness of grippy wines.

For those interested in exploring grippy wines, here are a few recommendations:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Known for its bold tannins and deep flavors.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Offers a spicy kick with robust tannins.
  • Nebbiolo: Famous for its significant tannin content and complexity.

Embracing the Grip

While ‘grippy’ might not be everyone’s cup of tea, understanding and appreciating this characteristic can greatly enhance your wine-tasting experience. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a curious novice, exploring grippy wines can expand your palate and introduce you to a new dimension of red wines. Next time you’re in a wine shop or browsing a menu, consider trying a grippy wine and experience the unique embrace of its tannins.

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