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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.




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Dear Dr. Vinny,

On vintage charts there is a score noted on each year for a particular region and wine varietal. Would you please explain what this means? It is very confusing. I know that wines are scored after tasting, but what do you do with wines that have scores other than indicated on the chart?

—Gloria M., Cape Coral, Fla.

Dear Gloria,

You're right that Wine Spectator's editors review individual wines in blind tastings, but they also summarize the overall quality and characteristics of specific regions in specific years, hence the vintage charts. The editors come to these conclusions by looking, for example, at the proportion of outstanding wines, considering weather conditions and grapegrower and winemaker analyses, among other things. Some people use vintage ratings to help make buying decisions when they're unfamiliar with particular producers. Basically, a vintage chart is just a snapshot of what you might expect, in the most general sense, from each year's wines in a given region.

—Dr. Vinny

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