I have a question about allowing wines to age. I know that when some reds are first bottled they are drinkable, others are not. Then they go into an awkward "hold" stage for some period of time, then are drinkable again before becoming too old. This is apparently based on the varietal, blend, and maybe vintage. My question is whether there is a general rule of thumb for different types of wine, or is it really individualized based on the specific wine itself? I often see mixed cases of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cabernet, etc. in auctions at Christie's from the 1960's - 1990's, and if there is no commentary from the auction house in their catalogue I have no way of knowing what stage the wine might be in, or whether it is already past its prime? I'm buying for drinking, not investment.
- Reply by Philip James, Mar 21, 2008.
Dave - I'm going to go out on a limb here and say there arent any general rules that will help. [I'm sure I'll be corrected by someone more knowledgeable, however.]
The factors that lead to how a wine ages are just too varied to build any standardized analysis: climate, bottling, storage, travel and other disturbances etc. Thats how we get one bordeaux vintage not ready to drink and a more recent one already past its prime!
Generally I'd say less expensive wines are either ready, or near ready to drink. Even more so with whites and rose wines which often only have a 1-2 year shelf life.
With more expensive wines you're back to no rule. It doesnt help that some people prefer to drink a wine at a different stage than others. Some prefer youthful, full bodied wines full of fruit and others like the secondary flavors to have had time to develop (at a cost of the fruit).
I do want someone to correct me on this actually, because otherwise there's no simple solution and the only solution there is is to read winer magazines or to track reviews or scores over time.
- Reply by Daveh839, Mar 21, 2008.
Thanks Phillip. You've confirmed why I haven't been able to locate a good source of info for trying to figure out if a mixed case coming up at auction is a good deal or a dud from a restaurant dumping their old inventory. Thanks for taking the time to answer, and if anyone else has further ideas on how to research on this topic I'm all ears.
- Reply by Daveh839, Mar 22, 2008.
Many thanks, this is helpful advice.
- Reply by Mark Angelillo, Mar 25, 2008.
Thanks for the link ccarpita, the general suggestions are good. Over the weekend I pulled out a bottle of white table wine that had been at my parents house for about a year and we opened it. I noticed that the wine was ... not bad ... but it wasn't crisp and refreshing like I hoped. Instead it was lifeless and reminiscent of vinegar. I think we caught it while it was still drinkable but it certainly wasn't the most pleasant.
I think Philip hints at this above, but some wines are just not meant to age. White wines are more often in this category (premium Chardonnays and Rieslings are candidates for aging), as are cheaper wines of all colors and classicly, the seasonal Beaujolais Nouveau. If you buy them drink them up, because you're wasting your money otherwise.