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've recently started to expand my wine horizons by including sweet and/or dessert wines. I've noticed many reviews of sweet wines mention the word "cloying." It seems some of the best sweet wines are described as "sweet but not cloying". Can you tell me how I will know if something is "cloying" my palate?

—Tom, Denver

Dear Tom,

You're correct that "cloying" is most often a negative term, referring to an excessively sweet wine that is lacking acidity. If you're not certain what cloying feels like, take a tablespoon of honey and swallow it. It's very sweet, but it's so sweet it feels like it might get stuck in your throat. The best dessert wines will balance any sweet, sugary or honey notes with a body and acidity that make the wine glide over your palate and linger without being sickly sweet.

—Dr. Vinny


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