Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny



Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is it worth ordering a bottle of wine at a restaurant if it needs an hour or two of decanting to show its best?

—Brandon, Naples, Fla.

Dear Brandon,

I've ordered enough Barolo in restaurants to have a plan for this scenario: Order the wine right away, and request that it be decanted. If they don't have a decanter, ask for the wine to be poured into their largest wineglasses.

In the meantime, order a glass or a bottle of something else—maybe a white or a bubbly that will go well with the appetizer you’re eyeing.

By the time your main course arrives you can start enjoying that austere red—it will be closer to where you want it. Wines that “open up” with some air are usually still quite good when they're opened—it’s not like at 59 minutes the wine is terrible and it magically transforms into something terrific once an hour has elapsed. Let the wine evolve as the meal and the conversation does, and enjoy every moment.

But if you suspect you’ll be distracted by concern for the wine's evolution, or lack thereof, just order something else. Wine is meant to be enjoyed, not worried over.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers


WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.