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 seen the term "modern style" in the description of various red wines. What exactly is "modern style," and what would its contrasting style be (maybe "traditional style")?
—Jim P., Rochester, N.Y.
Calling a wine "modern style" can be a compliment or an insult, depending on who says it and why. In general, modern wine practices are considered good things; as winemakers dealt with issues of sanitation and spoilage, modern wines became cleaner and more stable than their predecessors.
Today, though, when people refer to modern-style wines, they're usually talking about Old World wines that are made in a New World style: riper, fruitier and softer. If you're a traditionalist, you might be suggesting that a wine is too fruity, too ripe and too extracted. For every wine lover out there who likes ripe flavors, there's another one who doesn't like "fruit bombs." For every fan of wines that are accessible in their youth, there's another who suggests modern wines won't age well. Do you like a riper, bolder style? Or does that seem flashy and soulless to you? Proponents of terroir will say that modern wine styles have turned winemaking into a recipe, and that these wines are boring and homogenous.
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