What does it mean if a wine is “snappy”?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I’ve seen various wines described as “snappy”—what does that mean?

—Irwin, Lutherville, Md.

Dear Irwin,

Hopefully you can tell from the context in which "snappy" is used in all of those tasting notes, but I’ve seen “snappy” used as a modestly positive term. It’s either referencing a brisk, crisp acidity, or it could be a commentary on the fruit components of a wine. Apples and pears might be considered “snappy,” but a ripe banana or blueberry probably would not be described that way.

I checked with some of Wine Spectator's tasters, and they confirm that they tend to use “snappy” to mean “lively and crisp, with fresh, vibrant fruit.” But outside of wine, "snappy" can also refer to something concise and brief, and I’ve also seen that reflected in wine descriptions as well.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Tasting Descriptors

More In Dr. Vinny

Is Shiraz a Burgundy or a Bordeaux wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains which wines are labeled as Shiraz vs. Syrah, and …

Sep 20, 2021

I found a bottle labeled "Solera 1845." Is it really 175 years old?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how the solera wine aging system works, and what …

Sep 13, 2021

Is it OK to drink wine if the cork crumbles and pieces fall into the wine?

Got a crumbly wine cork? Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny has tips for how to deal.

Sep 7, 2021

Why do some winemakers use “used” oak barrels?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why barrels are toasted, and how a wine barrel's …

Aug 30, 2021

How can I tell if a wine cork is real or synthetic?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how to identify a polyethylene cork vs. a …

Aug 16, 2021

Do tobacco or smoke aromas mean that a wine contains tobacco?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where those herbal tobacco aromas in wine come …

Aug 9, 2021