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.


My husband is nuts about wine. It was fine when all he wanted was to lay down a case or two for our children's weddings. But now he has remodeled our garage as a wine cellar; he spends his time rearranging the bottles, and the cars are parked in the driveway. What can I do?

--Widow of Wine

Dear Widow,

This is a common problem. But look at it this way: he could be out playing golf all the time. Then you wouldn't even have the liquid assets to console yourself with. My advice is to improve your cooking and start inviting friends over for dinner. Encourage him to open those bottles with you.

--Anonymous

I was in a restaurant recently and ordered an expensive bottle of wine. The sommelier took the first sip! And it was a healthy swallow, too; I figure it cost me at least 10 bucks. I was incensed! Was he out of line?

--Thirsty Patron

Dear Thirsty,

You obviously have more money than wine sense. That sommelier was doing his job, which is to find out if that expensive bottle you ordered is still up to par. If it has gone bad, he'll cheerfully replace it, or suggest something different. Consider his sip as inexpensive insurance.

--Anonymous

I recently brought two nice bottles of wine--the kind you reserve for a special occasion--to a dinner hosted by our neighbors. When we arrived, our host thanked us graciously and whisked the bottles away. Instead, we were served wine of inferior quality.

Were they rude in not serving us the wine we brought, or was I wrong to assume they should open it?

--Not Feeling Neighborly

Dear Not,

I feel your pain. But it was a gift! A gift for the hosts is up to the hosts' discretion to open whenever they want.

If you'd like to drink the wine you bring to dinner, call the hosts in advance and consult with them. Try saying, "I'm really looking forward to dinner. What will you be cooking, so I can bring something that matches the food? Would it be okay if I brought my bottle of 1994 Screaming Eagle for us to share that evening?"

Or play it safe. Bring flowers.

--Anonymous

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