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 recently found many bottles of wine in an old, basically abandoned house of my aunt’s. The wines vary in age and variety, but are (I guess) the standards like Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay. Their vintages are between 1995 and 2005, and are from modest vineyards. Some were stored upright, some on their sides. Also, the temperature in the house has varied from approximately 30 degrees to 115 degrees. Are these wines still OK to drink, or should I throw them out? Thank you for any help!

—Adriann, Redding, Calif.

Dear Adriann,

The only way to find out for sure is to pop them open and try them, but based on what you’ve told me, I’m not very encouraged. Most wines are made for early consumption, and unless they’ve been stored carefully, even the ones that are made for aging can have a tough time. Unfortunately, the temperature range you describe is far beyond what’s recommended for proper storage (which is about 55 degrees F, with minimal fluctuation). Still, you might find some nice surprises, and it’s a great excuse for a party!

—Dr. Vinny


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