An attempt is made to derive a more complete picture of the basic interactions occurring in beverages between tannins or other phenols and adsorbents or fining agents. Salient facts and theories can be drawn from a wide range of fundamental and practical research on beer, wine, leather, gelatin, plastics, etc. The newer agents such as Polyc1ar AT and nylon powder have more in common with the much older proteinaceous agents such as gelatin than may be commonly recognized. The primary form of binding with these agents appear to be hydrogen bonding. Various factors related to capacity and selectivity of agents for phenol removal are discussed. The design and use of agents to get more selectivity combined with high relative capacity should be possible and should grow in importance as the specific desirable and undesirable effects of the individual phenolic substances become better understood.