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,

How in the world do servers physically pour a “Melchizedek” bottle—the equivalent of 30 liters—for people sitting at a table? This boggles my mind!

—James N., Santa Barbara, Calif.

Dear James,

“Very carefully” is too obvious, right?

When it comes to large-format bottles, I haven’t personally handled anything bigger than a Jeroboam, or 3-liter size. In that case, I rested one end on a table and controlled the neck of the bottle with my hand, which worked very well. It gets trickier when you get to the bottom of the bottle, when you have to get close to inverting it to keep pouring.

There are such things as large-format bottle cradles—like a decanting cradle, but bigger. Designs vary, but it holds a bottle in a sort of cage, and then you can control it by turning a crank. I don’t think I’ve seen a cradle that holds a bottle that large, so I imagine after opening the Melchizedek and pouring off a few ceremonious glasses, the best way to serve it would be to siphon it into a decanter.

—Dr. Vinny


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