Sandpaper & Tea: The Science of Astringency

Did you ever wonder why your tongue feels so dry after drinking a proper glass of red wine? I did! That’s why I researched the phenomenon of astringency for an article for the cocktail blog Tales of the Cocktail. Combining my professional interest in chemistry & biology with my hobby interest in cocktails offered the perfect motivation for this kind of article to me.

In fact there are several mechanisms in place to generate the feeling of astringency and the jury is still out on the matter of how exactly they function. What seems to be clear is that some polyphenols (such as the tannins in wine) neutralize the proteins in your saliva which leads to a loss of lubrication, an increase in friction and the dry effect in your mouth. Additionally, other polyphenols directly stimulate the trigeminal nerve.

What this also means, especially in the world of cocktails, is that you can remedy too much astringency by the addition of enough of the right proteins, for instance by the addition of milk proteins. Next to taking polyphenols out of the equation, the addition of milk can also improve taste & texture of the resulting drink. If you want to learn more about this I direct you to the article in the link above!

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