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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I went to a wine-tasting event recently where I tasted at least 30 different wines, mostly upper-tier selections from good California producers—stuff I typically love. But that night, it seemed like nothing tasted very good. I've had this experience before as well. Could it have been something about my body chemistry that day? Or is it just all in my head? Do wine tasters have days where their taste senses seem out of whack?

—Mike M., Lake Bluff, Ill.

Dear Mike,

What? That never happens to me ... I'm kidding! Of course it happens. Our lives are full of context—what you're eating, what medicine you're on (or not on), how distracted or stressed you are, the ambient temperature, the company you're keeping, how much you paid for the bottle, the alignment of the planets ... all these things can affect our perception of wine. And if you think that's a strange concept, I have two more words for you: bottle variation.

—Dr. Vinny

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