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,

After reading that whites should be tasted at 40–50 degrees F while most reds are optimal at 60–65 degrees, is there a simple way to measure the bottle temperature without opening the bottle?

—Dianna, Minneapolis

Dear Dianna,

Yes! There are a few devices to gauge a wine bottle’s temperature. For less than $10, you can get a reusable bottle thermometer that's shaped like a flexible cuff. It wraps around a bottle of wine, and as long as the entire thing is in contact with the bottle (which means that depending on the bottle shape, you might need to hold the cuff to ensure contact), you can get a reasonably good reading of the temperature of the bottle and assume the wine inside is about the same.

Starting around $20, you can get a gadget called a non-contact infrared thermometer. You just point the handheld device at a bottle of wine and it gives you a digital display. It's kind of fun to also point it at grills, fish tanks and cups of coffee.

—Dr. Vinny


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