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The ‘Drinking Window’

The Right Wine at The Right Time

As Wine Geek ages—gracefully, like a fine wine—He has noticed many of his friends are downright old. The good news is old friends have old wines in their cellars. Add to this, most wine lovers we know like to share their wines, so good for us! But…

As referenced in the idiom above, many high-quality wines age and ‘improve’ for years—sometimes for decades. Although there are some recognized generalities as to what imbues some wines with the ability to grow in the bottle vs wines that should be drunk say, 15 minutes after one purchases it, it is not an exact science. Certain grapes (Cabernet for example), from certain vintages, produced in a certain way have more potential to age than some (most) other wines. But that aside, there are other considerations.

To Geek, the biggest factor is personal taste, meaning at what stage of a wine’s development does one like to enjoy it. Some people like their steaks rare; some like them medium-rare. Some like Brie cheese when young and firm, some like it when it is aged and stinky. And some people like their Cabernet when youthful, and vigorous, and tannic, while some like it when it has softened and become more delicate. Which brings me back to my older friends.

Of course, for ‘special bottles’ i.e., rare/expensive wines, one would want to save it for a special occasion or for special friends. Prior to some more modern winemaking practices being employed, many wines—Bordeaux/Cabernet in particular—indeed needed many years to soften and offer maximum enjoyment. But what Geek seems to be experiencing frequently of late is many special bottles that are past their prime. Again, taste is personal, and it is up to each to determine as to the right time to drink a particular wine, but very, very few wine lovers would argue that a 40 year old Bordeaux that is brown and oxidized is ‘showing well’.

So, the moral of this story is: whether you are young or old…drink your wine now—better too early than too late!

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