Check out the new, mobile-friendly!

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,

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

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

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 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


= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Job Opportunities

Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.

Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences


The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories