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'm tackling a new job of bar manager, but I don't know a whole lot about wine. I do know that white wine should be chilled, but my question is, should I chill my white wine glasses also?

—Rick, via the Internet

Dear Rick,

When it comes to white wines, my advice is to chill the wine, not the wineglasses. Keep in mind that if a white wine is too cold—say, straight out of a refrigerator—it might be so cold that the wine is unexpressive and its aromatics are suppressed. Most refrigerators hover around 35 to 40 degrees F, but I think the sweet spot for serving whites is closer to 45 or 50 degrees. If a glass or beverage is too cold, it can numb your lips and some of your taste buds, and who wants that to happen? There's also a quibble about whether or not the condensation in a chilled glass can dilute the flavors of the beverage inside, which is why some of my beer-purist friends never chill glassware and flat-out refuse a serious beer served in a frosted glass.

But if you work in a high-volume bar and the glasses are coming straight out of the dishwasher, I think it would be a bigger sin to pour a wine into a too-hot wineglass than a too-cold one. If this is the case, then I recommend cooling down the glass by putting some ice cubes and water in it for up to a minute. Dump out the ice water and pour the wine as usual.

—Dr. Vinny


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