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,

What impact does the length of time of the fermentation have on the taste and character of a wine?

—Ryan F., Palo Alto, Calif.

Dear Ryan,

I checked with winemaker extraordinaire Adam Lee of Siduri and Novy to get you a straight answer. This is what Adam says:

"Generally, the more time a wine spends fermenting on the skins, the more characteristics it extracts from the skins. In other words, the more time a wine spends on the skins, the darker and more concentrated the wine ends up. But it can also end up being more tannic. Producing a wine of balance is, in part, a process of adjusting the length of fermentation.

"Of course, there are other contributing factors related to fermentation that contribute to the character of the wine, including time on the skins prior to fermentation, fermentation temperature, how frequently you mix the skins into the fermenting juice, etc. In other words, as Dr. Vinny has often been told, it isn't all about the length, but what you do with it that really counts."

Ouch, Adam. That hurt.

—Dr. Vinny


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