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. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Hello, Dr. “Vinifera.” This is your arch-nemesis, Dr. Vitis X. I have a question for you. Why do wine snobs such as yourself consider vinifera as the only winemaking grape species? What is your hang-up? Do you really think vinifera will save you in the end? Your grape cousins are fed up with your superior view of yourself. Time will tell, Dr. Vinny.

—Dr. Vitis X, Chicago

Dear Dr. Vitis X,

Ha! You got me.

For those of you trying to follow along at home, this gentle reader is making fun of my name. “Vitis” is the genus of the plant kingdom that includes grapevines. There are as many as 60 different species of Vitis, the most famous of which is Vitis vinifera, which hails from Europe and includes the most well-known wine grapes, such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and the like.

There are other winemaking Vitises out there too, like Vitis labrusca, which comes from North America and includes the Concord and Catawba grape varieties.

While it’s cute that Dr. Vitis X is trying to paint me as a wine snob based on my name, he or she may be forgetting that I didn’t name myself. Years ago, readers of this website looked upon my chubby cheeks and penetrating gaze and came up with the moniker. For what it’s worth, I would have preferred “Captain Vinifera.”

The truth is that if I had to pick a favorite Vitis, I might actually pick Vitis riparia, one of the phylloxera-resistant rootstocks that can be grafted over with Vitis vinifera grape varieties. Because no matter what Vitis you prefer, it’s always a good idea to be resistant to pests.

—Dr. Vinny


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