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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I always read the tasting notes when buying wines I never tried before. I like to steer away from wines that taste acidic, and I once read that the term "fresh" refers to the level of acidity in wine. Are there any more hints that I can pick up by reading tasting notes to try and decipher if a wine is on the acidic side? Also if I cellar a "fresh" bottle for a few years, will the acidity soften?

—Joseph B., San Dimas, Calif.

Dear Joseph,

Zingy, racy, zippy, juicy, jazzy, zesty, tart, lively, thirst-quenching, tangy, sharp, lean, mouthwatering, crisp, clean, and bite are some of the terms that we use to describe a wine with noticeable acidity.

You're right that "fresh" can be an indicator of acidity, especially when used in conjunction with mouthwatering descriptors like lemon, lime, or grapefruit. But a wine can also be fresh without being acidic, so check the context in which it's used. Freshness is a welcome thing—it's the opposite of stale.

As far as cellaring acidic wines, it's true that acidity softens with age. But I never recommend cellaring wines that you don't like upon release. Remember that a wine cellar is not a wine hospital.

—Dr. Vinny


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