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,

No matter how many wines I try, I still do not like those that are considered dry or semi-dry. I love Moscato d’Asti, Riesling, etc. Does that make me “unsophisticated” when it comes to wine?

—Sandi S., Plant City, Calif.

Dear Sandi,

I think it’s terrific that you like wine, you know what you like, and you have a way of expressing what kind of wine you like. You’re light-years ahead of many wine lovers who are still trying to figure out how to maneuver around wine vocabulary, or are only drinking what they think will make them look cool.

Moscato sales have been something of a phenomenon lately—it’s the fastest-growing style of wine in the U.S., so you’re certainly trending with the rest of the country in that respect. But as you suspect, sweet wines have an “unsophisticated” mark against them in some wine circles. (I’ve tackled this topic before with respect to white Zinfandel.) For some wine lovers, including myself, sweet wines were what we drank when we first started ordering wine. So, if someone has moved on to drier wines, you might seem like you’re stuck on the first step.

What’s the problem with sweet wine? Even though some of the very best (and most expensive) wines in the world, like Sauternes and Port, have a sweet component, for many wine lovers, the problem with sweetness in wine is that it can flatten a wine’s nuances, so the wine can start to taste a little generic.

I find that wine snobs who are insecure are the most likely to judge other people based on what they’re drinking. Me? I’m just happy that you enjoy wine and we can sit and have a glass together. I don’t judge. One of my family members puts ice cubes in her Pinot Grigio. One of my dearest friends loudly proclaims liking only rich, full, buttery Chardonnays (which are also considered passé by wine snobs). Another member of my inner circle refers to every single red wine as “Pinot Noir,” even if it’s a Zinfandel or a Cabernet Sauvignon.

I hope you have plenty of friends to share a glass of wine with who won’t judge you. If you don’t, you can always sit next to me.

—Dr. Vinny


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