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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does it mean to say a wine has a “linear profile”?

—Frank C., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Dear Frank,

“Linear” is used to describe wine in pretty much the same way it’s used to describe other things. A wine might not be literally “straight,” but it can be straightforward. The flavors might feel sequential, neither gaining nor losing momentum. A linear wine, like a linear painting, stays in the lines and doesn’t venture outside them.

Depending on the context, this can be either a positive or a negative trait. On the plus side, if the linear flavors are to your liking, precise, direct and intense, that might be a good thing. But that linear quality might limit your pleasure if you perceive the flavors as merely narrow or one-dimensional.

—Dr. Vinny

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