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 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


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