Can a single fruit fly ruin a glass of wine?

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,

My friend had a fruit fly go into her glass of wine, so she dumped it out and poured a new glass. I asked her why she didn’t just pluck it out and finish the glass. She said it had changed the flavor of the wine. I gave her a very skeptical look. Tell me, could a single fruit fly actually change the wine’s flavor?

—Tim T., Newberg, Ore.

Dear Tim,

I’m going to have to pull out my wine-geek membership card. I’m one of those people that can tell if there’s a fruit fly in my wineglass. Even a single fly can dull the flavor of the wine, and then impart a stinky or chemical note.

The reason? A panicked fly will emit a “drosophila stress odorant” to warn other flies by way of a type of tiny, stinky fruit-fly "fart." Once the fly is dead, that gas will dissipate, but by then I’m grossed out by the whole thing so I’m likely to do exactly as your friend did and get a new glass.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Flaws Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

How do you soften a hard cork?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what happens after a wine bottle is opened, and …

Jan 24, 2023

How long can Champagne be stored in a wine cooler?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what happens as sparkling wine ages, how long it …

Jan 17, 2023

I shook a bottle of wine with sediment and now it's cloudy. Is it ruined?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where sediment comes from, and what to do if …

Jan 9, 2023

Can a cork-tainted bottle of wine cross-contaminate other bottles in my cellar?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how and when cork taint or TCA contamination …

Jan 3, 2023

Dr. Vinny’s Wine Care Clinic: Top Tips for Safekeeping Your Wine Bottles

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny answers all your wine storage and serving questions!

Dec 27, 2022

Can you cook with non-alcoholic wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the benefits of cooking with wine, and shares …

Dec 19, 2022