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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does a "mineral" flavor or aroma mean?

—Ben A. B., Rehovot, Israel

Dear Ben,

Mineral notes rock ... pun very much intended. That is, another way to describe mineral notes is to use terms like "stony," "flinty," "slate," "granite" or "limestone." It might seem odd that wine lovers know what rocks taste or smell like, but if you've ever licked a pebble (and what kid hasn't?), or inhaled the smell of cement sidewalks on a hot day, you're on the way to understanding mineral notes. Talc, graphite, salt and sulfur are other minerals people might also be familiar with. I most often see the term "mineral" used to describe Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Syrah-based wines, although it's a pretty common descriptor in general.

—Dr. Vinny


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