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Dear Dr. Vinny,

A prominent Napa winemaker said it lost a large portion of its “library” in the recent earthquake. What is a “library” of wine and how is it used?

—Liz B., San Francisco

Dear Liz,

It’s pretty typical for wineries to hold on to a stock of older vintages in a wine “library.” Sometimes these wines are on display, and sometimes they’re just stored away somewhere safe, but they’re still referred to as “library wines.”

There are a lot of uses for library wines. I know some winemakers who regularly go back and taste their older wines to see how they’re aging or to get a sense of how a vineyard is developing. I’ve seen older vintages poured at winemaker dinners and charity events—many people rarely try aged wines, so it can be a real treat (or a real eye-opener). I’ve seen plenty of wineries offer up older vintages or even verticals of their wines in charity auctions. And occasionally a winery might make an older vintage available for sale to its customers.

—Dr. Vinny

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