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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I am a translator and I am currently translating a text about wine. Is the word “fizzy” used in a negative way? If I am saying a wine is fizzy, am I saying it’s a bad wine?

—Anna M., Italy

Dear Anna,

It depends on the context. When “fizzy” is used to describe a sparkling wine, usually it’s just acknowledging the effervescence of it and the carbonation that creates the fizz. I’ve seen wines described as being “gently fizzy” or having a “refreshing fizz”, which are compliments to the wine. I’ve also seen the term “fizzy” used the way the Italian word “frizzante” is used, to describe wines with a lighter effervescence and fewer bubbles, such as Prosecco or sparkling Moscato. In that case, it’s neither a positive nor a negative term, just a way to describe a style.

But when non-sparkling wines are described as fizzy or spritzy, that’s when it’s a negative term, and many consider it a flaw. There are two main reasons for a wine to have unpleasant fizz with it—either some carbon dioxide was trapped inside when the wine was bottled, or the wine started to re-ferment in the bottle. Sometimes you’ll see a wine described as having a hint of fizz, or a slight fizz, and that’s most often the negative connotation.

—Dr. Vinny

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