Why are people so fascinated/obsessed with 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,

Much like with sports, I don’t understand why people are so fascinated/obsessed with wine, and I can get turned off by fanatics. But I want to be able to celebrate and enjoy wine with others. What am I missing?

—Jake, Lith, Ill.

Dear Jake,

I think you could ask 100 wine lovers about their fascination and get 100 different explanations. But it’s my job to sit around and think about wine all day, so let me take a stab at this.

I think that wine is essentially about stories. There’s the story of how it tastes, determined by everything from what kind of grapes it’s made from to the conditions of harvest to all the many winemaking decisions that have gone into that bottle. The label can also tell a story, or there’s a story to the wine name, or how the winemaker got into the business. Wine comes from a place, and I think the best wines reflect that. There are also stories of history, art, trends, politics and marketing.

I’ve never seen another beverage be the jumping-off point for so many discussions. And I agree that sports inspires similar fervor, as does art, music and pop culture, among other things.

You may never feel that fascination about wine, and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying it as an occasional beverage. But if you’re a fan of anything—avant-garde jazz or Hitchcock films or video games—be patient with your friends for having their own thing. And sometimes being a friend means listening to each other wax poetic on occasion. Maybe you could even ask them to explain their love of wine to you.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

What’s the difference between Tuscany and “super Tuscan” wines?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny shares a short primer on Tuscany's key wine designations.

Aug 8, 2022

What’s the minimum amount of alcohol in wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how "wine" is legally defined in terms of …

Aug 2, 2022

Why are some of Wine Spectator’s reviews "web only"? What does that mean?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains why some of Wine Spectator's …

Jul 26, 2022

What’s the deal with wine “legs”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the science behind wine "legs," or "tears," and …

Jul 18, 2022

What is “dry” wine? Aren’t all wines wet …?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains what makes a wine "dry" vs. …

Jul 12, 2022

What does "père et fils" indicate on a wine label?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains a few of the French terms you might see on a …

Jul 5, 2022