Astringent taste, astringency

A mouth-puckering taste element in sake (also familiar from strong tea and red wine). Causing the cells of the tongue, inner cheek, lips and gums to contract, this is considered to be almost a tactile sensation and thus rather different from other tastes, which are detected by stimulating the nerve cells responsible for the sense of taste.

The characteristic astringency of red wine (derived from tannin in the grapes) is sometimes rendered with the word shibu-mi (渋味) in Japanese, and this is a similar sensation to shuren-mi. There is also a school of thought that suggests that the sensation of shibumi is a compound of shuren-mi and bitterness.

Unlike in the wine world, “astringency” is used to indicate a fault in the sake industry.