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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does it mean when a wine is ''short'' or ''a bit short,'' as I've occasionally seen in tasting notes? Does that relate to the finish?

—James P., Kalkar, Germany

Dear James,

Your instincts are good. "Short" refers to the finish, the impression you're left with after you swallow (or spit) a wine. Some wines reverberate a long time after they've left your mouth, and usually a long finish is admirable quality in a wine. Length isn't the only component of a finish; texture, complexity and balance of components (especially acidity and alcohol) are also considered. In general, when a finish is described as "short," it's usually considered a negative—unless you hate the flavors of the wine, and then you'll be thankful for a short finish.

—Dr. Vinny

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