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,

I belong to a wine club where the eight members taste eight different types of exclusively red wines. Following a rule, which I am not so sure is correct, we start with the least quality wine and leave the best one for last. Although we definitely enjoy every one of them, when we get to the last one most of us are not in the best condition to appreciate the star of the night. What do you suggest?

—Rafael N., Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

Dear Rafael,

What do I suggest? Spit! If the goal is to evaluate the wines and not get schnockered, the key to remembering the details is to remain sober. If your wine club isn't the spitting kind, you can still do so discreetly into an opaque cup and not make a big deal of it. Your friends will be impressed by your clear-headed recall, and your wine purchasing decisions will be the better for it. You can always take a first pass at the wines while completely lucid, and then go back to savor (and swallow) your favorites.

As far as the order of the wines, I'm not familiar with that methodology; after all, how do you know which are the "least quality" wines before trying them? What's the point of tasting them if you already known which ones are superior? I usually assemble tastings from lightest to heaviest, from driest to sweetest, and from least tannic to most tannic. And I like to be surprised, so I prefer to taste blind (that is, with the labels concealed). The next time you're hosting a tasting, you might want to change the rules a little.

—Dr. Vinny


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