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 work in a restaurant, waiting tables. After presenting wine to guests, I completely, neatly and effortlessly remove the whole capsule/foil before opening it. My sommelier says only cheap restaurants do that, but I swear I've read it somewhere before that it is totally fine. Is he right? And is there anything wrong with what I do?

—Yao

Dear Yao,

In formal service, your sommelier is correct. Since the capsule is part of the packaging of the bottle, it's most commonly accepted to remove only the top part of the foil—usually just below the lip of the bottle—before extracting the cork for service. It leaves the bottle pretty and intact. However, if you're decanting the bottle, it's necessary to remove the entire capsule so that you can see the wine flow through the neck and know to stop when you hit sediment. I'll confess that in the privacy of my own home, I'm likely to remove the whole thing so I don't cut myself on the edges of the foil.

—Dr. Vinny


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