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 got into a discussion with somebody the other day and they told me that I should not swirl white wine because it oxidizes it. I have never heard anything so ridiculous, but I wanted to check with an expert before I busted her. What is your take on the topic?

—Nathan B., Wilmington, N.C.

Dear Nathan,

Both red and white wines can benefit from giving them a swirl in the glass. Swirling aerates the wine, releasing aromatic elements (esters and aldehydes, if you'd like to be scientific about it). Yes, you're introducing oxygen to the wine, but you're not going to risk oxidation unless you swirl that glass nonstop until your arm falls off. Oxidized wines, which have had too much exposure to air, take on a brownish tinge and stale, nutty, bruised-apple notes. How much oxygen is good, how much is bad? Well, it depends on the wine and how it tasted when you opened the bottle. And speaking of scientific, as an experiment I've left a glass of young white wine uncovered on my counter for a couple of days before I noticed it start to fade.

—Dr. Vinny


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