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,

Will wines get less “tight” as they age?

—Thomas K., Northbrook, Ill.

Dear Thomas,

Maybe. When a wine is described as “tight,” it means that it is expressionless or closed. The good news is that it’s kind of a backhanded compliment, suggesting that the aromas, flavors and structure are there, just not demonstrative at the moment. I usually hear the term in reference to young wines.

Aging a wine might loosen it up, and so might aerating it in your glass or in a decanter. But the problem is you don’t know how long the wine will need to unwind, and I’ve had plenty of older wines that you would think would be relaxed, but they were still tannic and hard-edged, just older.

If you have an austere, tight wine and you’re going to give it some time in a cellar to relax, be sure it has optimal cellar conditions to give it the best chance at unwinding. Keep in mind, though, that some wines are just less expressive than others, no matter how old they are.

—Dr. Vinny


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