Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I've seen the term "modern style" in the description of various red wines. What exactly is "modern style," and what would its contrasting style be (maybe "traditional style")?

—Jim P., Rochester, N.Y.

Dear Jim,

Calling a wine "modern style" can be a compliment or an insult, depending on who says it and why. In general, modern wine practices are considered good things; as winemakers dealt with issues of sanitation and spoilage, modern wines became cleaner and more stable than their predecessors.

Today, though, when people refer to modern-style wines, they're usually talking about Old World wines that are made in a New World style: riper, fruitier and softer. If you're a traditionalist, you might be suggesting that a wine is too fruity, too ripe and too extracted. For every wine lover out there who likes ripe flavors, there's another one who doesn't like "fruit bombs." For every fan of wines that are accessible in their youth, there's another who suggests modern wines won't age well. Do you like a riper, bolder style? Or does that seem flashy and soulless to you? Proponents of terroir will say that modern wine styles have turned winemaking into a recipe, and that these wines are boring and homogenous.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.