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NEW YORK -- Many winemakers call pinot noir the "heartbreak grape" because this variety has been historically difficult to cultivate and transform into wine. Genetically unstable, pinot grapes have a silky texture attributable to its soft, velvety "tannins" (a class of chemical compounds that react readily with proteins and other molecules). With global warming adding to the challenge of producing this rare wine in higher quantities, contemporary winemakers have turned to science for help.
How can science assist winemakers become more successful at producing more quantities of this and other famous wines? What are soft and velvety tannins? To …