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 found some old bottles of wine in my house that I can’t find any info online about. Can I send you pictures of them somehow?
—Carlo, New York
Oh, my goodness, please don’t anybody send me photos of old bottles of wine. I know it’s tempting to imagine you’ve found a treasure when unearthing old bottles, but random wines with even more random storage circumstances are not likely to be drinkable, let alone valuable. And if they were valuable, you’d definitely find some information online about them. Like, say, in WineSpectator.com’s Auction Price Database, which tracks the buying and selling of the most collectible wines in the world.
But don’t let the highly collectible wines fool you. Most wines don’t get better with age, and those that do need stable cellar conditions to let them age well, with consistent temperatures and away from light and heat. If you’re thinking of reselling the wines, keep in mind that whether you approach an auction house or a person-to-person wine auction site, they will probably ask for documentation of how the wine was stored, and they generally prefer to work with collections rather than with individual bottles.
If you’re not thinking about making a quick buck but are curious about how the wines will taste, there truly is no way to find out that doesn’t involve a corkscrew. If it’s a wine with a track record for aging, that’s a good sign, but not knowing how the bottles have been stored makes it a bit of a crapshoot. Most wineries these days have websites, so you could look up the producers on the Internet and ask them questions about what you’ve uncovered.
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