At a restaurant, if I want to order a wine that needs time to breathe, what should I do?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I'm at a very nice restaurant and see a Cabernet I love, but know it's much better after being decanted and allowed to breathe for an hour or so. Is it worth buying wine at a restaurant that really can't be enjoyed to its fullest because it won't have a chance to open up?

—Brandon, Naples, Fla.

Dear Brandon

I agree that many red wines show best once they’ve had some time to open up, but that doesn’t preclude me from ordering them in a restaurant. After all, most of my meals that include a bottle of wine will be at least an hour in length—plenty of time for it to become more expressive. If I order a bottle soon after arriving, I can watch it evolve over time during my meal.

You can always ask the sommelier to decant the wine. If not, ask for their largest wineglasses and have fun swirling. I always enjoy watching a wine change in my glass, but if you’re certain it needs some time to show better, while it’s breathing you can order a glass of something white, pink or bubbly while you wait.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Decanting Sommelier Service

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