Check out the new, mobile-friendly!

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

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers


= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Job Opportunities

Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.

Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences


The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories