Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

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

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is a “unicorn” wine?

—Andy, Cleveland

Dear Andy,

Like the mythical creatures they're named after, unicorn wines are rare and hard to find. They're a little different than “blue-chip” wines, like first-growth Bordeauxs or “cult” California Cabernets, which are not that hard to get your hands on if you have the money. Unicorn wines are special not because of their price, but because their production volumes are so tiny. It also helps if the wine is from a relatively unknown (but currently trending) wine region or producer, and extra bonus unicorn points if the winemaker is deceased, making its rarity even more precious.

Unicorn wines are big among the sommelier set, because the sommeliers get to show off their hip rare wines and access to the seemingly unobtainable. Makes sense to me—it’s not in the interest of a sommelier to serve you a wine that you can buy at the grocery store or any wine shop—especially with a restaurant’s typical markup, so I can understand why they would be pretty excited about posting photos of unicorn wines all over Twitter and Instagram.

—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.