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 do not like Merlot but if I drink it through a straw it can become palatable. Is it because I’m aerating the wine?

—C.A., Brunswick, Ohio

Dear C.A.,

I’ve certainly seen people drink wine through a straw, and as long as you’re not blowing bubbles, or trying this in a formal situation, I think you’re fine. The straw might help prevent tooth stains, and you may be drinking faster via the straw, as many people do.

However, any aeration effects you’re creating by sucking would be negated by the fact that the straw bypasses your nose entirely. If you aerate a wine by swirling it in a glass (or decanting it) you’re releasing aromatic esters that make a wine more expressive. That’s why people swirl, sniff and sip. Remember that something like 75 percent of what we perceive as taste is actually what we smell, or what bounces around our retronasal passages.

—Dr. Vinny


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