Definition - What does Sappy mean?
"Sappy" is another way to say that a wine is slightly green. It is a characteristic sometimes found in young wines with small amounts of pyrazine. A wine that is sappy will have stalky and herbaceous characteristics like fresh basil, dill, parsley, rosemary or tarragon. When these characteristics are found in the right varietal of wine, such as Pinot Noir, it is a sign of quality.
WineFrog explains Sappy
The broader definition of a "sappy" wine can vary depending on the wine, the growing season of the fruit, and whether the varietal can stand up to this type of characteristic.
Depending on the taster, a sappy wine may be perceived as a flaw or a positive characteristic.
For instance, a traditional, light-bodied, dry Sauvignon Blanc may be sappy with herbal characteristics of cut grass, fresh dill and cilantro. These are all signature notes of Sauvignon Blanc and for most, are favorable.
However, if one was to describe a Cabernet Sauvignon as sappy with its notes of green bell pepper, this may be a negative trait. Cabernet Sauvignon and other big red wines will often have a green bell pepper nuance due to the fruits' inability to properly mature during the growing season. This can sometimes occur when temperatures are higher than usual. High levels of sugar are able to develop, but without cooler temperatures, flavor and aroma elements in the grape cannot. This version of "sappy" may not be appreciated while a wine is young, but it does enable the wine to age well. With time, this character can mellow out.