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,

When bringing a special wine to a restaurant, is it OK to open it beforehand to be sure it’s good?

—James P., Seattle

Dear James,

As with most questions about BYOB and restaurants, my advice is always to call ahead and check. Even if you’re pretty sure that you know their policies, it never hurts to just confirm, especially if you’re thinking about opening the wine ahead of time. Here’s the full rundown of my BYOB suggestions.

While I don’t do it very often, I have brought pre-opened (and in some cases pre-decanted) wines to restaurants, but always after calling ahead and checking. When I hand it to the server, I’ll say, “I spoke with your manager about it this morning, and I’ve opened this and decanted it ahead of time.” Then I’d suggest just pouring the wine directly, skipping the try-it-first part of the ritual. I’m also known to bring backup bottles. Backup bottles are always a good idea.

If you have good reason to want to make sure the wine is fine before bringing it to a restaurant, and if the restaurant is accommodating, then you just have to make sure it’s legal to travel with open containers of alcohol where you live.

—Dr. Vinny


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