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,

Why do people hate white Zin? And hate on us? I love white Zin (and I’m not in college—I've already graduated). Why do people turn their nose up when they serve it?

—G.G.T., New York

Dear G.G.,

Well, some people are just rude. You should enjoy whatever is in your glass, haters be damned.

White Zinfandel is maligned by some wine lovers because it has a reputation as the wine people drink when they don’t actually like wine. It’s often made with relatively low-quality grapes and blended into a consistent house style that can mask the types of grapes it’s made from and where the grapes are grown. It’s also on the extremely affordable end of the wine-cost spectrum, which some people will only see as “cheap.” And the reasons you may enjoy it—its fruit-punch flavor profile and appealing sweet finish—are exactly what turn off some wine lovers. Sweetness can take the edge off of a simple wine, but it can also mask a wine’s nuances, if it has any.

I think you’ve hinted at the next point I’m going to make, which is that for some people (yours truly included), white Zinfandel was what we drank before we “graduated” to other, more serious and expensive wines. It helped me get comfortable with a wineglass in my hands, and most importantly, it gave me a reason to walk into a wine shop. It’s been a couple years since I’ve had a glass of white Zinfandel, and I imagine it would seem sweet and simple to me. But I would never want to be a jerk about it.

These days, there’s a bit of a revival of white Zinfandel—some terrific wineries out there are making it, but in a dry rosé style, which may or may not appeal to the typical white Zinfandel drinkers. And I should also mention that there are plenty of rosés made from other grapes besides Zinfandel at which only the most ignorant server would wrinkle their nose.

Unfortunately, there will always be someone judging you by what you drink. I have a lot of unsavory names for these people, but the one thing you’ll never hear me call them is “friend.”

—Dr. Vinny


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