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 read, and personally found true, that certain people can, and others can't, taste TCA taint. I am a restaurant professional and I have had occasions where customers have offered me tastes of wines (that I have recommended) that were tainted, and they didn't notice. Should I say something? I want them to have the best wine experience possible, but I don't want to seem pedantic.

—R.A., Virginia Beach, Va.

Dear R.,

The reason sommeliers taste wines before serving them to customers is because they know best whether a wine is flawed or not. If the sommelier (or other server) notices that a wine is flawed and doesn't replace it, that's a breach of trust.

I understand what you're saying, but it is your responsibility to make sure your customers aren't served flawed wines, and there are ways to bring this up without sounding like a jerk. Even though some people aren't as sensitive to TCA (or don't have a vocabulary to describe it), tests show that people prefer TCA-free wines to ones that are even slightly tainted.

—Dr. Vinny

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