ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I am developing a recommendation system on wines. How can I learn about the distinct tastes, flavors and aspects of wine that make users like them? Does emotion or place of origin play a part in deciding which wine an individual will like?

—Suchismit, New York

Dear Suchismit,

I think the best way to learn about the varying flavors of wines is, of course, to taste as much wine as you can. But developing the vocabulary to describe these flavors involves language. And to develop these language skills, I recommend both reading other people’s impressions of wines, and to try to express your own impressions, either by writing or talking about wines as much as you can. There’s also a great online wine school I can recommend.

As far as whether or not emotion, place of origin or any other context will play a part, absolutely! Where you are, the company you’re keeping, what kind of food you had with the wine, that’s all part of the experience. If you want to remove as many of those variables as possible, you might want to consider blind tastings, which is what we do here at Wine Spectator. We sit in the tasting room and focus on the bagged bottles of wine in front of us, without taking prices or producers into account. And there’s never any food to distract our impressions.

I think that all of those variables aside, the truly great wines of the world are universally appreciated and respected. We all have our personal preferences for styles of wine, but style aside, true quality shines through.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories