What does the word “unctuous” mean in a wine tasting note?

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 word “unctuous” mean in a wine tasting note?

—Peter, Dallas, Texas

Dear Peter,

Outside of wine, the word “unctuous” describes something oily or greasy in terms of texture. In wine, it’s mostly a positive term. It refers to a wine with a rich texture—something lush, with some viscosity. I most often see it describing dessert wines.

Of course, it depends on the context of how the word is used. An unctuous wine without any acidity to balance it out could seem heavy or cloying.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Tasting Descriptors

More In Dr. Vinny

Do wine-preservation devices like Coravin actually work?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice on using the Coravin and tips for other …

Jun 26, 2019

Which sparkling wines are made from Chardonnay?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers clues for figuring out a sparkling wine's grape …

Jun 24, 2019

At what point of color saturation does a rosé become a red wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how rosés are made.

Jun 21, 2019

What kind of grape is Pouilly-Fumé?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the wines from this Loire Valley region.

Jun 19, 2019

Is it true that you can clean a red wine stain with white wine? What's the best way to clean a wine stain?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers some tried and true methods and advice for …

Jun 17, 2019

How long will an unopened bottle of Champagne stay good?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how sparkling wine ages.

Jun 14, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search