Log In / Join Now

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.




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

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I’m an international student who is studying hospitality in Sydney, and these days we are studying the very interesting topic of wine. I’ve been reading and researching for some days, but I still do not have a clear understanding on what is the difference between a Chardonnay from France and one from Australia.

—Dave, Sydney, Australia

The biggest difference is just that one is made from grapes grown in Australia and the other from grapes grown in France. Beyond that, you’d probably notice that the bottle of Australian Chardonnay will say “Chardonnay” on its label, but the one from France will typically just list the region of origin—say, Chablis—and then you’re supposed to know that white wines from Chablis are made from Chardonnay grapes.

If you’re asking how they might differ in taste, that’s opening a can of worms. Many factors can affect the way a wine tastes besides just where its grapes were grown—the vintage, harvest conditions, winemaking decisions and so forth. Generally, the accepted characterization is that wines from the New World (such as Australia) tend to be more ripe, fruit-forward and round than wines from the Old World (such as France), which might show more structure and non-fruit notes of flint, spice and earth, but there are plenty of exceptions.

—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 300,000+ ratings.