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,

I recently observed that some sommeliers pour red wine into a decanter and then shake it vigorously as if they were preparing a cocktail drink! Does this help to aerate the wine better? This looks quite inelegant to me. What is your opinion?

—Philip C., Malaysia

Dear Philip,

Remember that there are two very distinct reasons to decant a wine. Older bottles you should decant gently, as a way to separate the wine from its sediment. Shaking the decanter in this scenario would defeat the purpose.

The other reason for decanting is to aerate a younger wine, and in this case, sure, I’ve been known to give it a swirl or two, especially if I’m familiar with the wine or had a taste of it ahead of time and think it really could use that extra handling. In general, I’m not a fan of overly aggressive aerating, as I’ve fielded other questions about using a food processor or blender. I enjoy seeing how a wine evolves in a glass—I’m not really about conducting science experiments, or adding variables I can’t really control or predict.

When it comes to a sommelier shaking your wine, I think for the most part you can relax and assume they know what they’re doing, and perhaps they’re giving you a bit of a show. But if it were an older wine that should be treated more gently, I’d definitely speak up.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories