ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Neither my husband or I are big wine drinkers, but over the years have been given wine gifts. The bottles have been stored on their sides in a wine rack with little attention to temperature. Our house has an average temperature of 60 degrees, and the wines have an average age of 4 to 10 years. The question is, how do I know if the wine is still OK to serve guests without opening them?

—Doris D., Tallahassee, Fla.

Dear Doris,

You have no idea how much I wish I had a superpower to look at a bottle of wine and tell you whether or not it’s tasting well and if you’d like it, but there is just no way to tell without opening it. But don’t feel bad—it’s always a gamble how a wine is going to show when you open it, even if you’re familiar with the wine and have stored it well.

It’s OK to open these bottles for your guests. Just tell them, “I’ve been meaning to open this bottle that I got as a gift for a while now. Let’s see what we think!” If it’s not well received, you can always open another bottle. Or, you could make it an occasion, and invite your guests to bring over wines they’re also curious about for a “let’s all see what we have in our wine racks” tasting. Who knows? You might find some gems.

—Dr. Vinny


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