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 it mean when a wine is described as “rustic”?
—Steven, Van Buren, Ark.
“Rustic” can either be a positive or negative term, depending on the context. It usually means a hearty, rough-edged wine. I see it used mostly to describe red wines, because “rustic” can refer to tannins I’d describe as coarse, chewy or drying. The opposite of a rustic wine would be one that’s “elegant,” with refined or smooth tannins.
I find plenty of rustic wines charming. Petite Sirah comes to mind—these dark, chewy wines are the opposite of a refined, silky red. But if the flavors are as intense and concentrated as the tannins, then I can find the profile very appealing. Of course, if the rough tannins and rustic profile are distracting or overtly drying, then rustic could be a flaw.