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What Is a Sexy Wine?

By Karen MacNeil
December 8, 2017

Last week, WineSpeed reader Terry R. from Lincoln, California, wrote in with a question I’d never been asked before. Terry said, “I’ve seen you and other writers use the term ‘sexy wine.’ What exactly is a sexy wine?” I have to admit, I had to think about my answer. But I also wanted to know how others would answer the question, too, so I posed it on social media and offered to send my 2018 A Year of Good Wine Desk Calendar to the reader with the best response.

Before I give my answer, here are a few answers we received. (And for what it’s worth, way more men answered this question than women).

From Patrick Anderson: A sexy wine will arrest your senses on every level. The color will be as rich and mesmerizing as the eyes of your lover, and just as easy to lose yourself in. The aroma, an intoxicant in and of itself, will seem to simultaneously effuse a comfortable familiarity, as well as an exciting sense of the unknown. On the palate, the wine will be so rich, decadent, and hedonistic that you feel a very real fear of being overwhelmed. At least until it is gone. Then, your only fear is that you may never be able to taste it again. [A sexy wine] must make you feel as though you have fallen in love for the first time.

From Steven Amy: Some wines are sensual and sexy and some are cerebral.  Red Burgundy … sexy. Red Bordeaux…cerebral. Hermitage….cerebral. Côte Rôtie … sexy. If the pleasure offered by the wine is up front, the wine leans to the sexual. If the pleasure must be analyzed and debated … it’s cerebral. Or put in a way an old friend once said, “some wines are above the waist wines….and some wines are below the waist wines.”

From David Miles: One doesn’t go somewhere with the intent of buying a sexy wine, but it is through experiencing it that its true seductiveness is revealed, quite often starting out with a flirt on the palate or as a waft of a mysterious perfume that beckons us to give in to our desire to become better acquainted. There are occasions when the winemaker succeeds in capturing the subtlety and beauty that can only be experienced viscerally while standing in the middle of a mist covered vineyard when it is quiet and it evokes and awakens our deepest romantic notions. These are thrilling moments, for sure. The ability for wine to move us, emotionally, physically, experientially, and leave us breathless – that is sexy.

From Igor Sill: A sexy wine is that beautifully fitted black dress of wines that seduces with alluring bouquets of fraises des bois and balanced cherry essence, enveloped with long flowing legs before drifting memorably into the late evening. Beyond memorable, it’s absolutely unforgettable.

From Shane Nicolson: A sexy wine is not defined, or compartmentalized, by common logic or measurables. It is a personal experience that exists on one’s own palate and at the core of one’s senses. It’s where words tend to fade from black and white to grey; where whimsical and ethereal often get mistaken for tangibility. The pleasure and beauty inherently lies in the depth, rather than tangled up in the superficiality. Sexy wine is less about physicality, and more so about sensuality. Something that speaks to you; for whatever reason. It enchants your full consciousness, whilst magnetizing your subconscious. Simply put–wine with sex appeal consumes and captures you in such a way that leaves you longing for more.

It was hard to choose a winner, but Shane, please send us your address because a Good Wine Desk calendar is coming your way!

Oh, and I almost forget. Here was my definition:

A sexy wine starts with smell. It can’t just smell like cherries or lemons. There’s got to be an element of aromatic corruption. A sexy wine has a certain animali smell– like a man who’s just run a mile (5 miles is too much).  Next comes texture. Sexy wines don’t just feel like any old liquid. They kind of lay themselves over your palate languorously. They have a physicality that’s trenchant. And the taste? Sexy wines are a tease. They have complex flavors that reveal themselves sequentially. You can’t quite pin down what’s happening to you, but you want it to keep happening.

How’s that? –Karen