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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I had a sommelier at a local prime steakhouse tell me that makers of higher-end wines (California Cab, for example) put their "best" wine of a particular cuvee in large-format bottles before the regular 750ml bottles are filled. Is this true?

—Tom C., Birmingham, Ala.

Dear Tom,

It's not true. But I get so many questions along these lines, I checked with Craig Williams, the winemaker at Joseph Phelps, just to be sure, and this is his response:

"While we normally bottle the large-formats first, followed by the 750ml bottles, all bottles obtain their wine from the same tank[s]. To do otherwise would be a commercial disaster. Aging differences are another matter, though."

Craig's right: the larger-format bottles tend to age more slowly, and they make for good trophies. I'm guessing the myth that there is better wine in the bottles in the first place was created as a marketing ploy.

—Dr. Vinny

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