What does “vin sec” mean on a Riesling wine label?

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 “vin sec” mean on white wine like Riesling?

—Ted, San Francisco

Dear Ted,

“Vin sec” is French for “dry wine.” “Dry” typically means the opposite of “sweet” when it comes to wine. A wine is considered dry when the sugar from the grapes is converted completely to alcohol during the fermentation process. Most table wines are considered dry. But some wines—Riesling is one of them—are commonly made in a variety of styles, from dry to off-dry (or semi-sweet) to richly sweet dessert wines. The “vin sec” here is a helpful clue to the style of the wine inside.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny White Wines Riesling

More In Dr. Vinny

Why do some wine reviewers disagree on drink windows?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains one philosophy for determining when a wine will …

Aug 12, 2020

What are Greece’s Muscat of Patras wines? Are they made with sun-dried grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny introduces us to two Greek fortified wines: Muscat of …

Aug 10, 2020

Should the capsule on top of a wine bottle spin or not?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the folklore about foil capsules, or sleeves, on …

Aug 7, 2020

I tried to clean a red wine stain and it turned blue. Why?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine stains can turn blue, and how best to …

Aug 5, 2020

How does Wine Spectator review canned wines in blind tastings?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the procedure for blind-tasting wines from …

Aug 3, 2020

When will wine from Virginia get the recognition it deserves?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why Virginia's wines aren't more well-known on …

Jul 31, 2020