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,
I wonder what is considered a young or old wine. How many years in the bottle before a wine is considered “old”?
—Fernando V., Colombia
Age isn’t a regulated quality (thank goodness), and I bet everyone has their own idea of what makes a wine “old.” I believe a wine starts to edge into the “older” category when it starts showing signs of aging—phenolic compounds start to link together and drop out of suspension to become sediment, the color fades or starts taking on more brown shades, fruit flavors move into the background and secondary notes come into the foreground. In wines that have been stored properly, I often see this happening right about 10 years from the vintage date.
By the time a wine is 20 years old, most folks will probably consider it “old.” While I don’t often hear wine lovers discussing wines that are simply “old” or “young,” I do on occasion hear someone refer to a wine that is “backward” (youthful despite its age) or “forward” (mature for its age).
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions