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,

Many in Europe tell me that it’s not important to taste white wine before red as long as you refresh your palate after each taste? Is this correct? Why?

—Alla, Calgary, Canada

Dear Alla,

I don’t know about "correct," but most folks find it helpful to taste wine in a particular order—light to heavy and dry to sweet. Tannins can build up and cling to your mouth, making it difficult to go from a tannic wine to a less-tannic wine without experiencing residual tannins from the first wine. I find it really difficult to go from a sweet wine to a dry wine. It just tastes funny.

I think it depends on how many wines you’re tasting in a row, and how quickly, and if there’s any food with what you’re tasting. During the course of a three-hour dinner, I can go back and forth from red to white without much problem—and a white wine might be wonderfully refreshing and a nice change of pace after some reds. But when I’m tasting for work, or trying to focus on a large group of wines, I find it really helpful to not mess with this logic.

—Dr. Vinny


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