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,

Should one leave the wine bottle at the table while you are drinking it? How about once it is empty? Can you leave it at the table?

—Maria, Calgary, Alberta

Dear Maria,

You didn’t specify whether this is in a restaurant setting or just at home, but the standards are pretty similar. Once opened, the wine bottle should be left on the table—or nearby, if the table is too crowded—so that it’s convenient for refills. I also enjoy looking at the bottle while I’m drinking a wine, which helps me remember the name and the label.

Once a bottle is empty, it’s good to clear it away, just like you’d clear empty plates of food or other dishes when you’re done with them. It’s also a good signal that it’s time for another bottle, and that one shouldn’t try to pour from the empty.

A while back, a reader asked whether or not it’s appropriate to invert an empty bottle of bubbly into an ice bucket. My response was that it’s considered bad form, but my colleague Matt Kramer took me to task on this point. While inverting an empty bottle of wine into an ice bucket is certainly one way of communicating to your server that you’d like another, I still prefer to just ask. I definitely don’t recommend doing it at a friend’s house.

—Dr. Vinny


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