What is a "foxy" 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,

What is a “foxy” wine?

—Rodrigo R., Algarrobo, Chile

Dear Rodrigo,

The term “foxy” refers to a very distinctive note found in some wines, a sort of wild, musky, animal smell that reminds me of the odor of a fur coat. It’s often found in American grape varieties like Concord or Catawba, and it’s usually paired with a pure grapey note.

Because it’s associated with certain grapes and the wines made from them, it’s generally an accepted component ... to a point. Too strong a foxy note can make a wine seem out of balance or disjointed, or it can detract from the rest of the wine’s personality. Scientists have identified the “foxy gene,” which means you might see foxy-free Concord wine in the future.

—Dr. Vinny

How to Taste Tasting Descriptors Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Does food cooked with wine taste like wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine is such a popular recipe ingredient.

Nov 22, 2021

My basement wine cellar flooded. Are my wines ruined?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, explains what to watch for when a wine …

Nov 15, 2021

Are sulfates and sulfites in wine the same thing?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the difference between chemical compounds …

Nov 8, 2021

What does it mean to say a wine is "full-bodied"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how we talk about a wine's structure and "body."

Nov 1, 2021

Is it OK to store wine in Styrofoam shipping containers?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, explains the pros and cons of storing …

Oct 25, 2021

What are biodynamic wine grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains some of the farming principles applied to …

Oct 18, 2021