Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny



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

Dear Dr. Vinny,

If a very small amount of wine (a couple of drops) comes out of a bottle of wine that has been kept at slightly less than room temperature, is that a sign that the wine is bad?

—Steve M., Boynton Beach, Fla.

Dear Steve,

Some day I’m going to open a wine crime scene investigation unit. We’d come to your house, inspect the couple of drops of wine, shake our heads and tell you frankly that the only conclusive way to tell if there’s anything wrong with your wine is to open it.

A couple of drops of wine leaking could be the sign of a faulty cork, or a clue that the wine had been exposed to high temperatures, causing the wine to press past the cork. In either scenario, the wine might be totally fine, it might be unpleasant, or it could be somewhere in between. If the cork let more oxygen in, the flavors might take on a nutty, oxidized note. If it was extreme temperatures, the wine might taste stewed, or tired.

I’ve had the real-life experience of leaving a case of wine in my car for too long on a hot day, and some of the bottles leaked. Some of the leaky wines were perfectly OK; others went down the sink. After all, a cork is a sliver a tree bark, so it’s not surprising that they vary from cork to cork in how well they seal.

Did something suspicious happen? Maybe. But for this investigator, I’m going to need a corkscrew to further investigate.

—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 340,000+ ratings.