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

How many gallons of wine are in a ton of grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how many barrels, gallons, cases and bottles of …

Apr 12, 2021

Does wine age the same under synthetic and natural corks?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the pros and cons of a variety of wine closures, …

Apr 5, 2021

Does Champagne age well?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what happens to sparkling wine as it ages.

Mar 29, 2021

Is there a word for sparkling wine that starts with the letter “P”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny's bubbly crossword puzzle suggestions include pétillant, …

Mar 22, 2021

Is there another name for “red Burgundy”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the Pinot Noir grape's relationship with …

Mar 15, 2021

Should red wines be stored at a different temperature than white wines?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for how to take advantage of a dual-zone wine …

Mar 8, 2021