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,

When do you give a taste to a guest when decanting? My colleague sommelier says that after decanting (as he has learned at school). But should we give it to the guest beforehand, to give them a taste of the primary aromas? Not to mention the decision whether to decant at all?

—Michal K., Prague, Czech Republic

Dear Michal,

I took a survey among my peers, and there were many different responses. Some said that it depended on whether the wine was young or old, pointing out that in older wines it's best to disturb the sediment as little as possible, and they'd rather wait until the wine was decanted.

I think it's just best to ask. When someone orders a wine and specifies decanting it, simply say, "Very good. Would you like me to bring you a taste before I begin to decant?" and let the customer decide.

—Dr. Vinny


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