Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

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

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have been in a few restaurants where the waiter actually rinses the wine carafe with a wine other than the bottle I ordered. I find this is nonsense. Am I wrong? Does this not alter my wine in some way? Where has this procedure come from?

—Simonetti D., Montreal

Dear Simonetti,

I actually like this practice so much, I started doing it at home. It's called "priming" or "seasoning" a glass or decanter, and it's a solution to the musty smell glassware gets from being stored in old wooden cabinets. I've heard it originated in Italy. I now give my glasses and decanters a splash and a swirl of a wine before using them because I store my glassware in old wooden cabinets that just drive me crazy with their smell.

If you want, you can politely ask that your decanter be primed with the same wine that is being served. Other diners like having their decanter primed with something other than the $300 bottle they just ordered. Either way, remember that the wine staff is there to serve you, but you have a responsibility to speak up and not assume they can read minds.

—Dr. Vinny

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

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.