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,
What does it mean when a wine is unctuous? And what does it mean when a wine is NOT unctuous? I've seen the adjective in a positive way. But I've also seen it used with a negative connotation, as in "sweet but not unctuous." I'm confused!
—Tony T., Bingham Farms, Mich.
"Unctuous" is mostly a positive term. It refers to a rich, lush texture, or soft, velvety tannins that are caressing and deep. However, it's possible to have too much of a good thing. "Sweet but not unctuous" could refer to a dessert wine that's balanced with good acidity, keeping it light-bodied and not overly heavy or cloying.
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