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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I saw you were against wrapping wine in a napkin. I do agree that red wine should not be wrapped. But the purpose of wrapping a bottle is not merely to catch drips but rather to help keep a bottle chilled. For this reason, the cloth is supposed to be slightly moist or chilled before wrapping the bottle then placed in a stone to keep the wine cold. The napkin helps fill any gaps between the bottle and stone.

—Bethany, Omaha, Neb.

Dear Bethany,

I can’t argue with your reasoning. I haven’t seen many of those stone wine chillers in a while—I remember them as marble, and you can chill them separately, and they will keep a bottle of wine stay cool longer. You’re right, a damp napkin or tea cloth will help in that process, too.

I have one friend who also uses the damp tea towel method to quickly chill a bottle of wine. She wraps a bottle in a damp cloth and puts it in the refrigerator (or the freezer for a short amount of time, if she’s in a pinch) and swears that it helps chill the bottle faster. Of course, that also means she’s known to serve bottles of wine with tea cloths frozen onto them, but she thinks it’s worth it.

—Dr. Vinny


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