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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does it mean when a wine is unctuous? And what does it mean when a wine is NOT unctuous? I've seen the adjective in a positive way. But I've also seen it used with a negative connotation, as in "sweet but not unctuous." I'm confused!

—Tony T., Bingham Farms, Mich.

Dear Tony,

"Unctuous" is mostly a positive term. It refers to a rich, lush texture, or soft, velvety tannins that are caressing and deep. However, it's possible to have too much of a good thing. "Sweet but not unctuous" could refer to a dessert wine that's balanced with good acidity, keeping it light-bodied and not overly heavy or cloying.

—Dr. Vinny

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