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Wine Hotline: Ask The Wine Guy


This month, our “wine guy” is actually Barbara Hermann, Binny’s fine wine buyer. Barbara has traveled all over the globe and has decades of experience under her belt. She is an eight-time winner of Geja’s blind wine tasting. So we went to her with this month’s Ask the Wine Guy question. Check out Barb’s answers after the jump.

“I sometimes hear wine drinkers use words like ‘jammy’ or ‘buttery.’ Are these typical wine descriptions?
Do they literally mean what they sound like?”




Refers to a style of chardonnay that smells of butter popcorn and has a rich, creamy, somewhat oily texture with flavors of roasted nuts and butterscotch. Chardonnay is actually a fairly neutral grape variety that gets most of its flavor and texture through winemaking intervention. The buttery texture and popcorn aroma comes from diacetyl, a by-product of of malolactic fermentation. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this style of chardonnay has gone a little bit out of fashion.



Applies only to reds. A great, mouth- filling concentration of fresh, ripe, pure fruit, that masks the tannins and makes the wine feel plush and soft. This descriptor works with the varieties like grenache and zinfandel that are natural “fruit bombs.”



It’s what you say when you don’t know what else to say. Really, there are so many kinds of minerals, you need to be more specific – even “stony” has a more specific meaning. People use “mineral” to describe streamlined wines, like muscadet or some German whites, when they are sleek but light on fruit.



This is a negative description, in my opinion. It implies a wine has strong dry wood tannins that overpower the fruit and body. It can also mean too much charred oak flavor or aroma. All of which can result in a dried out, hard wine.



A big time wine flaw. The wine either smells like mildew or a moldy newspaper. The main cause is the cork. Before bottle insertion, the cork was exposed to the compound known as TCA. It can also come from contaminated barrels or winery building. The appearance of the cork won’t give you a clue, but a badly tainted cork might smell moldy. To confirm the problem you have to smell the wine.


We’re here to answer your questions! If you have a question for the wine guy, email You may see your question in the next Wine Hotline!

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