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,

Let's suppose you're having a wine dinner where multiple varietals will be consumed. Is there a proper order to drinking the wines? Should I start with the Champagne? Whites before reds? Lighter wines before more intense? Help!

—Mike R., Richmond, Va.

Dear Mike,

Well, it really depends on the wines (and the dishes you're serving), but when pros set up a wine tasting, they typically go from lightest to heaviest and from dry to sweet. Tannins can build up and literally cling to your mouth. If your first wine is very tannic, then every wine after that might taste the same. And it's impossible to go back to a dry wine after you've had something sweet. It'll just taste funny.

When I'm entertaining, I usually start with a glass of bubbles or a crisp white wine, and then I move on to more full-bodied whites before switching to a light-bodied red, then to the fuller, more tannic reds before finishing with something sweet.

—Dr. Vinny

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