For a dinner party, is it better to serve one bottle of lots of wines, or lots of bottles of a few wines?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I’m bringing six bottles of wine (three white, three red) to a big family dinner. Should I bring six different wines, or three bottles each of the same red and the same white?

—Tare, Pebble Beach, Calif.

Dear Tare,

How nice of you to provide wine! I’m often the family member with that responsibility, so I’ve been confronted with this very question many times.

Guests are usually excited to see what I’ve brought and want to try as many wines as possible, and they’re used to having just a taste of a wine before moving on to the next. You can come up with a theme—pick a producer, a grape, a wine region or a vintage to explore and get three different wines with three different expressions for some fun. Or just pick three of your favorites, or wines you think will go with the cuisine or the event. It’s helpful with multiple bottles if the guests are pouring their own wine, so they can keep track of what’s in their glass.

But I think it depends on the crowd and situation. If you’re going to be in a restaurant with a server pouring the wines you’re bringing, six different wines might be tricky to manage—you’ll have to make sure the server doesn’t top off red wine No. 1 with red wine No. 2 and so forth. If the guests aren’t really into exploration and would rather nurse a single glass over the dinner, then you might want to keep it simple. Either direction you go in, it’s kind of you to bring the wine!

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Serving Wine

More In Dr. Vinny

Can I keep a half-full bottle of wine and serve it a few weeks later?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how wine changes once the cork comes out of the …

Jul 8, 2020

In what ways do old and new wines smell and taste differently?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how wines change in flavor and aroma as they age.

Jul 6, 2020

Is it possible to “fix” cork-tainted wine with plastic wrap? How does that work?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where cork taint comes from, and why PVC wrap …

Jul 3, 2020

If most vines are grafted onto rootstocks, why do some grapevines thrive in soils where others struggle?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny, with an assist from U.C. Davis' viticulture department, …

Jul 1, 2020

What does “buttery” mean when talking about Chardonnay?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where "buttery" flavors come from in wine.

Jun 29, 2020

Are French oak barrels for aging wine made from white oak or red oak?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why white oak is the preferred wood for aging …

Jun 26, 2020