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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have heard that aging wines does not necessarily make them better, just different. That only experts would appreciate the aged bottle and the average person would not know the difference or maybe not even like the wine at all. What are your thoughts on this matter of aging?

—VeeVee, Simi Valley, Calif.

Dear VeeVee,

I agree that aged wines are not automatically better, but they can transform into something different. The best aged wines are transcendent; the worst are oxidized, tired, and uninspiring.

Aged wines are not for everyone. If you're not familiar with the nuances that older wines take on, you might be surprised and even disappointed in how they taste. My fear is that new wine lovers will age their wines without realistic expectations of what happens. If you like your wines with a lot of rich, ripe fruit flavors, bright acidity and healthy tannins, older wines might not be for you.

Don't think of a cellar as a wine hospital. If you don't like a wine in its youth, it's not going to magically become better in its old age. Also, a bottle that hasn't been aged in ideal cellar conditions (constant, 55 degree-ish temps away from light, heat, and temperature variation) might not be in the best shape.

—Dr. Vinny


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