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,

In all the wine reviews I read, and there are thousands upon thousands, I never see "grape" used as a descriptor for flavor. Yet I frequently read about all the other fruits—blackberry, strawberry, fig, currant, black cherry and others. Why?

—Doug E., Phoenix

Dear Doug,

I mentioned your question to some of the tasters at Wine Spectator. One of them—the funny one—mumbled something about "tastes like chicken." How true. One never describes chicken as tasting like chicken, but the term comes up when describing other meats. So, one never really says wine tastes like grapes, because it's a bit redundant. It's more effective to tell the difference between wines if you focus on the more nuanced flavors.

I have seen "grapey" used as a descriptor, and it usually refers to the simple flavors and aromas of fresh table grapes, or wines made from carbonic maceration, such as Beaujolais.

—Dr. Vinny


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