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,

A recent Wine Spectator review of 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape reads, "Shows the heady ripeness of the vintage, along with chewy, robust tannins. Because of their rugged structure, I revisited many of these wines a day after opening them, and none of them lost a step. In fact, they showed better integration with a day's air—a great sign for long-term development. —J.M." My question is, how much air? Should I pour out a glass? Leave the bottle uncorked overnight?

—J.R., Calif.

Dear J.R.,

"J.M." stands for senior editor James Molesworth, so I went straight to the source. This is what James said:

"Good question. You could open a bottle and pour out a glass, and then drink that glass slowly while the rest of the bottle airs. Or, decant the entire bottle and let it air for an hour or more while you sip the first glass slowly. Or, decant back into the original bottle, try a glass and leave the rest overnight. Or ... see my point?

"The object is to watch the wine's evolution while also enjoying it. You don't want to just decant, set a stopwatch and walk away—you'll miss out on what happens during that time. Play with the wine. Check on it occasionally. It's always fun to keep the first glass poured to compare with the wine after it's been well aired. Try different methods with different bottles of the same wine and see if any one technique works particularly well for you.

"There is never a specific formula—and this is what makes wine fun."

—Dr. Vinny


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