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 almost always order the wine when dining with my husband. On several occasions (I can count at least four) at some of the finest restaurants, I have been brought the wrong vintage of the wine I ordered, with no acknowledgement or apology. I asked a few of my male friends who also appreciate wine if they have had similar experiences—they had not. Are there any data that women are treated differently than men in this department?

—Kelly, California

Dear Kelly,

I don’t think there’s any reason why sommeliers would systematically try to dupe female customers over males with the ol’ vintage switcharoo, and no, I’ve never heard of that or seen any data supporting your theory. Any time a vintage switch has happened to my dining companions or me, I just assume it was because the wine list hadn’t been updated, or the sommelier grabbed the wrong bottle.

I have two theories on what’s happening here. The first is that it actually has happened to your male friends, but they just haven’t noticed. The second is that your beauty dazzles sommeliers, leading to mistakes.

No matter what the reason or how often it happens, you have a right to speak up about it. When presented with a bottle of the wrong vintage, just say, “I ordered the 1996, and this bottle is a 1997.” Either they’ll go back to the cellar and replace the bottle with the correct vintage, or they’ll come back and tell you they’re out of the vintage you ordered, and probably hand you the wine list and let you make another choice. I think the key is to treat it as if it were an honest mistake; otherwise, it might tarnish your meal.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories