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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Hi, this will settle a bet. Why does a waiter hand you the cork when he/she opens a bottle of wine in a restaurant? What is the history of this tradition?

—Erik P., Greenlawn, N.Y.

Dear Erik,

It began because a long time ago, bottles didn't always have labels, and inspecting a cork for the stamp of the winery was one way to ensure authenticity. Today, you can do all kinds of things with a cork. You bought the wine, so it's yours, after all. You can sniff it (honest, you can) if you think you can learn something from that. Mostly, corks just smell like ... well, like cork. You can squeeze the end to see if it's damp, which might give you a sense if the wine was stored on its side, keeping the cork moist, so hopefully the wine won't be oxidized. But if you wait just a moment, you'll have a chance to actually taste the wine and find out for certain. Most wine drinkers see no value in playing with the cork, but it is a nice tradition, and makes a good souvenir.

—Dr. Vinny


Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories