“In wine, where does ‘softness’ come from?” —Jill B. (Berkeley, California)
Great question, Jill. In red wines, softness comes in large part from ripeness. In general, the more physiologically mature the grapes are when they are harvested, the softer the wine will feel on the palate. That’s because ripeness leads to mature tannin development—which in turn leads to softness. That said, it’s also possible for a wine to be so soft that it’s like an uninteresting puddle of pancake syrup.