Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

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

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does it mean when they say a wine is rustic, or the tannins are rustic?

—Albert, Seoul, Korea

Dear Albert,

A “rustic” wine is one that can be described as hearty, earthy or rough-edged. The opposite of a rustic wine would be one that’s refined, elegant or smooth. “Rustic” is also a good way to describe tannins that have a chewy or coarse texture.

As a term to describe a wine’s personality, most of the time I think it’s used in a positive way. Rustic wines can be charming, and when it comes to Carignane or Petite Sirah, I expect and appreciate a touch of rusticity in these wines. But in certain wines—say, a high-end Burgundy, when the expectation is for silky tannins—if the tannins are unexpectedly rough or coarse, rusticity might be distracting and seen as a flaw.

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

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.