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Dear Dr. Vinny,

When a wine is described as having a "linear" characteristic, what exactly is that?

—Karl, Geneva, Ill.

Dear Karl,

A "linear" wine is straightforward, precise or direct. Some wines gain momentum as you taste them, others lose momentum, and some have a middle phase that sticks out. But a linear wine finishes as it begins, and there are no real surprises. Depending on the context, this can be either a positive or a negative trait. If you love the flavors and intensity of a wine, and it's linear, that's a good thing. If it's kind of a simple wine that leaves you wanting more, you might wish it were a bit less linear.

—Dr. Vinny

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