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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,

Being a server in an expensive steakhouse, I often decant wine for my guests. In doing this I always tilt the decanter as I pour so that I don't "bruise" the wine, something I learned from an angry guest who brought in a 1984 Martha's Vineyard. Does all wine "bruise" or only aged wine? I see many different servers pour straight into the decanter and nobody seems to care.

—Andrew S., Huntington Beach, Calif.

Dear Andrew,

I've been surprised to get a couple of questions about "bruising" wine, as I've never seen a bottle with a black eye. Someone asked whether or not making a cork "pop" when you pull it will bruise the wine. Others have also asked about bruising in relation to decanting. I've never had a wine that was fine one moment and damaged the next because of handling, and can safely say that bruising wine is a myth.

However, you shouldn't correct your customer if you want a good tip. Truth is, it's a good idea to treat older wines delicately, for a few reasons. First off, older corks are sometimes delicate, fragile things that can crumble easily, so take care. Also, when decanting older wines, you want to separate the wine from the sediment, which is hard to do if you're sloshing the wine around too much.

—Dr. Vinny


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