Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

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

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I recently purchased a bottle of wine that was labeled “Pinot Gris,” and the glass was very dark. I though Pinot was red wine, but when I opened it, I was surprised (and upset!) to see that it was white wine! How can I tell if a bottle of wine in dark glass is red or white?

—Jenna J., Spring, Texas

Dear Jenna,

Whoops. Well, now you know that Pinot Gris is a white wine grape, and Pinot Noir is a red wine grape. Typically the nickname “Pinot,” used by itself, just refers to Pinot Noir. But while we’re at it, I should go over the most popular “Pinots” in wine. Pinot Gris is also known as Pinot Grigio. Pinot Blanc is another white wine, as you might guess. In addition to Pinot Noir, reds include Pinot Meunier and Pinotage.

Many white wines are packaged in clear bottles, which helps avoid confusion. Darker bottles help protect their contents from exposure to light, which could cause the wine to age prematurely, but since many whites are best consumed while still young, that’s less of an issue.

It’s all part of the learning curve. I used to work in a restaurant, and I was present dozens of times to see the look on the faces of budding wine drinkers who ordered a bottle of Zinfandel and were surprised to learn it was a red wine! When all else fails, it never hurts to ask.

—Dr. Vinny

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.