A Ripe Old Age?
The other night, my wife and I opened a 1997 bottle of wine that we
purchased at a great winery in Napa Valley several years ago, expecting
an incredible experience. Much to our surprise, it did not meet up to
our expectations, especially since we had tasted the wine before we
This all leads to two issues that need discussion. First, how long
should you keep a wine before you drink it Second, how should wines be
stored to maximize the aging.
We have a rule in our house that we should not store red wines longer
than ten years passed their vintage date on the label. Why?. Most New
World wines are meant to be consumed young, and not meant for extended
aging. Though this is not true for all wines, a good to very good wine
can still benefit with
some additional aging. The best wineries don't even release their wines until they are aged a little longer at the wineries.
With age,the tannins in the wine tend to dissipate or soften,
making the wine seem more velvety. This in turn makes the fruit
concentration come forward. All wines reach a certain maturity. At this
point the wine is as good as it gets! After that the wine starts to
deteriorate,losing it's maximum potential. It is hard or almost
impossible to say when a wine is at it's peak, so that is why we
have the ten year rule in our house. And, yes there are great wines
that can last 10,20 or 30 years, but those are exceptions.
This now brings up the subject of how to properly store your wine for
maximum aging potential. What we don't have in Ventura, or anywhere
close is an off-site wine storage facility where you can store your
wines in a climate controlled warehouse somewhere away from your home.
Anyway, these places charge a fee and tend to be
These places also take away the spontaneity of grabbing a wine
when you want it. So, most of us have two choices. The best choice
is to buy a wine cooler. These are readily available and can hold
anywhere from 24 to hundreds of bottles. The larger units (100 bottles
or more) are best suited because they control the temperature and
the humidity which are the two worst enemies of wine storage. Drastic
changes in these greatly effect the aging of wines and can ruin the
If this is not an option, then I recommend converting a closet in
the middle of the house. Be sure it is not near a heater or water
heater. Keep the bottles laying down so the corks stay moist. Though
this is not the ideal way to store your prized possessions, at least
you will be able to age your wines for a short period before drinking
Questions or comments?
Reach me at :
last month's "Let's Talk Wine" article by Eric
Ventura Wine Bars
County Wine Trail
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