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Is my wine-snob friend going to ruin my dinner party?

The question: I'm hosting a wine dinner next month for which every guest will bring a great bottle that they're excited about. One of the guests, however, is quite a collector. She told me she plans to bring a 1989 Barolo, and then offered to bring along "varietal-specific glassware," as she put it. When I followed up, she said it "would be a waste" to drink a wine this good from a glass that isn't made for Barolo. Say what?

The answer: Your friend has brilliant taste in wine for someone so gullible. Some glassware companies claim - albeit without any evidence - that minor variations in the shape of a tasting instrument, as they often call them, dramatically affect the way a wine tastes in your mouth.

Actual scientists who've done real studies counter that this is nonsense, at best, but the marketers persist. And so consumers like your friend believe they're not alive unless they've got entirely different glasses sets for chardonnay from Chablis, chardonnay from Montrachet, vintage Champagne, ordinary Champagne, sparkling wine (seriously!) ... the list goes on. If your friend wants to bring her own glasses, let her -there's no harm done, and you're getting some pretty great juice in the bargain. But save your own cash for what really affects the way wine tastes in your mouth: the wine itself.

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Follow food writer and restaurant columnist Chris Nuttall-Smith on Twitter: @cnutsmith. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail

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