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,

Why must red wine be given a chance to breathe before drinking it if the essence of the taste is the volatiles? Wouldn't some of the taste be evaporating before the wine is tasted?

—Mike, Terrace, Calif.

Dear Mike,

That's a good argument against decanting, and I can't say I disagree with it. Truth is, it depends on the wine—some wines need more air to open up, and other wines don't evolve with aeration. Most of the time, watching the wine change in the glass is fine for me, but there are other wines that are markedly better after decanting. When I first open a bottle of a wine I'm not sure whether or not to decant—say, a young and robust red—I always pour myself a taste to make sure the bottle isn't flawed. If it seems closed and unexpressive, I might give it some extra air in a decanter.

—Dr. Vinny


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