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 was recently introduced to a wine service technique by which a small of amount of wine is swirled around the wineglass to coat the surface and then discarded before the glass is then filled. It made an astounding difference in the way the wine showed! Does this technique have a name?
—Wendy, North Vancouver, British Columbia
It sure does! That’s called “priming,” or “seasoning,” the glass, and I do it all the time to deal with the musty smell that my wineglasses sometimes pick up from my wood cabinets. You can watch a few of my Wine Spectator colleagues in action, swirling and priming a glass, in our cool "How to Serve Wine Like a Pro" video.
I have heard that the practice of priming originated in Italy, but it’s pretty common among wine geeks around the world. Sometimes sommeliers will even use this method in restaurants. And the process is just how you describe it: Coating the interior of the glass with wine and then discarding it not only rinses out any dust particles or other residues, but it also fills the glass with the aroma of the wine.