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Dear Dr. Vinny,
When aging a wine, how do you know its peak time to drink? I often see reviews saying things like "best between 2015 and 2022." How do you tell when the peak is?
—Joe L., Chicago
When will a wine peak? Well, it depends on a lot of things, namely the wine itself, how it was stored, and who is drinking it. As you know, wine is a highly personal thing: What that tastes good to you might not be to my taste. I tend to like my wines on the young side, so if you serve me a 30-year-old wine, I might not be as excited about it as you are.
That said, we still feel drink recommendations can be useful, which is why we include them with our reviews. Our tasters tend to give conservative recommendations, knowing that older wines can be an acquired taste. So even though a drink recommendation might say a wine is best between 2015 and 2022, you might want to hold off until after that, based on your own preferences and experiences.
For me, a wine has gone past its peak when the flavors have faded or the wine tastes completely oxidized. Again, you might see some beauty in the same wine, while all I taste are rancid nuts and bruised apples. A wine is always safe to drink past its recommended drink window, but it might be unpleasant.
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