Wine Importing and Marketing Services

What Does ‘Supple’ Mean in Wine?

Illustration by Alyssa Nassner

The word supple may make you think of the tactile feeling of velvet or soft, well-worn leather. Similarly, those sensations are what your sommelier hopes to invoke when they say they have a nice, supple wine to pair with your dinner.

When it comes to wine, supple is all about the mouthfeel. Most commonly, you’ll hear this term used to refer to a red wine as having “supple tannins.” This means that, while tannins present themselves in the telltale grippy feeling between the teeth/gums and cheeks, they also take it easy on you, giving a softer sensation than another wine with a harsher tannic structure would. 

“Supple tannins are well integrated, providing a positive sensory effect that does not overwhelm the other key aspects of a wine,” says Sam Dhiman, graduate student researcher in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis.