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,

Plagued with lifelong sinus problems, I have never had a good sense of smell. Since wine tasting is primarily olfactory, I can never detect the nuances of wines. Is there a better way to approach tasting for those who have a poor sense of smell?

—John H., Hattiesburg, Miss.

Dear John,

Your letter reminds me of a friend of mine who was in a terrible car accident that made her lose her sense of smell and taste for a year or so. It eventually came back, but during that period when she couldn’t smell or taste, she told me all she ate was popcorn and avocados.

This is my anecdotal way of telling you that you still have an opportunity to focus on—and enjoy—a wine’s body and texture. While you might not be able to name every nuanced detail about a wine’s aromatics, you may still be able to get a sense of its balance, its density, and the silkiness or the chewiness of the tannins. I hope you find the popcorn and avocados of the wine world that work for you.

—Dr. Vinny


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