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,

Please explain what is the meaning of “clean” and “not clean” in a wine, and how you distinguish it?

—Lucia C., China

Dear Lucia,

There are a few ways the word “clean” is used in conjunction with wine. At one level, it means a wine that is not spoiled, that was made without any defects. There’s a whole spectrum of notes for a whole variety of wine defects out there, but in general, if it smells unappetizing, spoiled, rotting, musty, rancid, or like rotten eggs or burning tires, someone might pronounce it “unclean.”

“Clean” can also refer to the aroma or appearance of a wine, or to its personality. If a wine is crisp and fresh, and its flavors are delineated and clear, I might distinguish the wine by calling the flavors “clean.” It’s a generally positive note, the opposite of which would be to describe the flavors as muddled or murky.

—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