ask dr. vinny

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. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I am looking to give two bottles of wine to a couple who recently got married, one to be enjoyed on their 5-year anniversary, in 2016, and a second bottle to be drunk at their 10-year anniversary, in 2021. Is there any place on your website that can recommend red wines to me for consumption in those years, and also provide information as to how long they need to breathe once opened, etc.?

—Peggy, Portland, Ore.

Dear Peggy,

That’s a very thoughtful gift. What might make it extra special is if you picked a wine that you knew the couple really liked. Can you find out what their favorite type of wine is, maybe what they drank on their first date, or when they got engaged? Perhaps you could slyly ask their opinion about wine, pretending to get tips for yourself. “I really want a bottle to celebrate my upcoming birthday—what would you guys recommend?,” or “What are you going to drink for Valentine’s Day?”

Our online Wine Search database has oodles of wine reviews available to members of WineSpectator.com, and we give drink recommendations for all the wines we scored well. That means the reviewers looked into the crystal ball of their wine experience and predicted when and for how long a wine will be showing its best. Ten years isn’t that long for most well-made wines, and plenty of red wines, sparklers, and even some whites would meet that criterion.

As far as how long a wine needs to breathe once opened, it really depends on the wine. I don’t think these bottles need to come with special instructions for the couple. But in general, younger, more robust wines will last longer once opened, while older wines will fade more quickly. If you end up picking a hearty red wine, at the 10-year mark there might be some noticeable sediment, and you can brush up on our decanting advice.

—Dr. Vinny


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