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,

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

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