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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does “forward” mean when describing a wine?

—Paul P., Montreal

Dear Paul,

I’ve seen “forward” used with two different connotations when it comes to wine. First, a wine can be described as “fruit-forward,” meaning that the fruit flavors dominate the wine, which is typically rich and ripe. This can either be a positive or negative trait, depending on whether or not those flavors are in balance.

“Forward” is also used to describe a wine that is ready to drink sooner than expected, meaning that it’s mature for its age. The opposite is a “backward” wine, which is one that’s youthful despite its aging, or that’s taking longer to reach maturity and needs more time. These terms are often mild knocks on wines, suggesting that they aren’t showing the way they were expected.

—Dr. Vinny

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