What does the wine term “sauvage” mean?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does the wine term “sauvage” mean?

—Colin K., Calgary, Canada

Dear Colin,

Sauvage is a French term meaning “wild” or “natural.” There are three things it might refer to. First, when appearing in a tasting note, it might mean gamy, earthy or forest floor flavors. Second, it might reference a wine that was fermented with wild or indigenous yeasts. Finally, I’ve also seen it refer to a sparkling wine, to indicate that no dosage (a sweet syrup added just before bottling) has been added, making it very dry, even drier than a brut sparkling wine.

—Dr. Vinny

Education Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

I found a bottle labeled "Solera 1845." Is it really 175 years old?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how the solera wine aging system works, and what …

Sep 13, 2021

Is it OK to drink wine if the cork crumbles and pieces fall into the wine?

Got a crumbly wine cork? Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny has tips for how to deal.

Sep 7, 2021

Why do some winemakers use “used” oak barrels?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why barrels are toasted, and how a wine barrel's …

Aug 30, 2021

What does it mean if a wine is “snappy”?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains this term for lively, vibrant …

Aug 25, 2021

How can I tell if a wine cork is real or synthetic?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how to identify a polyethylene cork vs. a …

Aug 16, 2021

Do tobacco or smoke aromas mean that a wine contains tobacco?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where those herbal tobacco aromas in wine come …

Aug 9, 2021