Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
How long can you cellar an exceptional California Cabernet, for instance, one that is rated 95-100? Does it depend on the vintage, the winemaker? I am very confused.
—Prakash K., Rye Brook, N.Y.
Most importantly, it depends on the wine. And then there’s the winemaker, the cellar conditions, and the person drinking the wine.
An exceptional California Cabernet like the ones you’re referring to should drink well for at least the next 10 years or longer. But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily start holding your wines that long, unless you know you like wines with some age on them, as older wines can taste quite different. And I’d never recommend holding onto a wine that long unless you have the proper storage conditions that will give the wine a chance to make it to its 10th birthday intact (a constant temperature of about 55 degrees F, good humidity, and protection from light, heat, temperature fluctuation, vibration and thirsty family members).
For specific advice on individual wines, WineSpectator.com subscribers can check out our Wine Search database, where all recommended wines are given a drink window by the person who reviewed it. The recommendations are just a guide, and you should adjust to your taste for younger or older wines accordingly.
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