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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.




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Dear Dr. Vinny,

We have some beautiful old Waterford lead crystal decanters which we've rarely used. My wife is afraid to use them for decanting wine because of her perceived risk of lead poisoning. Is this perceived risk justified, or can we decant away?

—Mark Mershon, Miami, Fla.

Dear Mark,

You can decant away, but only if you promise me that you don't use those decanters for long-term wine storage. It takes a long time—months or years—but eventually the acids in the wine will leach some lead from the glass. You'd have to drink a whole bunch of this lead-infected wine to have any dangerous effects. But it's safe to use these decanters for a few hours at a time.

—Dr. Vinny

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