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,
Which wines are “clean”? What does that even mean?
—Taylor, New York
A small number of wine marketers have recently started using the term “clean” in association with wines that have been made from organic grapes or have minimal additives, but the term “clean” is not legally defined when it comes to wine. Anyone can say that their wine is “clean,” and it’s an evocative choice, because it suggests that other wines are “unclean” or “dirty,” and who would want a dirty wine? (To be clear, the alcohol industry is highly regulated in terms of consumer safety and sanitization.)
Marketers who use the term “clean” are suggesting that their winemaking decisions involve fewer ingredients and a minimalist approach, but there are many wines made the same way that are not specifically marketed as “clean.”