How long will that wine last?
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
This past weekend, I got a chance to spend
some time with the lovely relatives of a dear friend of
mine. It was around four in the afternoon, and we were
coming from a nice brunch at my favorite spot in Absecon,
NJ. I knew that I should have picked up a couple of bottles
while still in Jersey, as I figured correctly that I
wouldn't be making it to a Pennsylvania State Store. As we
entered their beautiful house, they did offer us something
to drink, to which of course I inquired for something either
in white wine or a bubbly. Since they don't normally drink
wine, one of the only things that they had was a Pinot
Grigio from 2002.
Now, I will state this I was willing to try
just about anything, and that even though the wine had
turned somewhat, I still managed to slowly sip down a glass
or two (even way past its date, it was still better than
some other stuff I have had that was produced within the
past two years). As they were gracious hosts, and wine
wasn't their thing, of course I wasn't going to say
something about it. However, this did make me think of all
of the people that I know that have wine racks, haven't
really learned anything about wine, and have the possibility
of having some wine sitting their for years.
Oh, the other choice was a White Zinfandel.
As the rule of thumb, white wines don't last
[for drinking purposes] more than three years in the bottle.
The exception is of course, wines with a higher sugar
content, such as some of the wines from the Alsace region of
France. Some of these can be aged for over ten years, but
there are periods within that timeline where the flavor
decreases before it rebounds and becomes better than it
would have been if opened not long after release for sale.
Dessert wines will always last, especially Port and Madeira
wines. An example of a dessert wine would be Sauternes and
Tokai. Another exception would be some of the white wines
of Haras Estate down in Chile.
Sparkling wines also are great for ageing,
but not all of them. Some, depending on the grape won't
make it more than a couple of years in the bottle, and this
would be for those produced using the Charmat method and not
having a high level of sugar.
Red wines are of course the standard for
ageing, with wines easily being aged for decades, scores,
and even over a century. But of course, not all wines are
made to be aged, especially the lesser ones. Of course the
most notable for this would be the more full-bodied wines.
How do you know? Well, I would say the first thing to do
would be to actually do some research with the producer, and
with the product notes, that will tell you a lot about the
wine, especially for how many years you might want to store
it before opening. In many cases, even on the label it will
tell you if a wine should be consumed almost immediately or
up to the first couple of years after release.
The reality is that you don't want to be
that person who breaks out a bottle of a guest or guests and
turn what could be a special moment into a frightful one;
the drinker's equivalent of getting food poison, or
Thanksgiving turkey which is still frozen or cold in the
Wine is a wonderful thing, but there is a
proper time to drink it, and a proper time to throw it the
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