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,

What is the slang name for the residue wine, left over in vats, historically given to workers on wine farms in South Africa?

—Graham C., Ireland

Dear Graham,

South African wine workers used to be under the “dop system,” where part of their wages were paid in cheap wine. “Dop” is a nickname for an alcoholic drink in Afrikaans, and I’ve also seen this practice referred to as the “tot system.”

The dop system was outlawed in 1960, and the ban was enforced more strongly in the 1990s when apartheid was abolished. Producers not only used it to dump unwanted wine, it unfortunately created social and health problems for the workers, which sadly still reverberate today.

—Dr. Vinny


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