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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I know that many serious collectors will often ship their prized bottles (e.g., Bordeaux first-growths) back to the château every 10 to 15 years to have them recorked. I've read that if significant ullage has occurred, the château will "top off" the bottle prior to recorking. Do these wineries maintain a few bottles of each vintage in reserve for recorkings, or will they top off with a more recent vintage having similar qualities to the one in question?
—Jim M., Okemos, Mich.
The aim with recorking is to give a bottle extra years of safe aging, as some corks may start to deteriorate after a while. Generally, the châteaus will top up from a different bottle of the same vintage, or possibly from a younger bottle of a similar vintage if that's the only choice. Usually some sort of documentation is given at an official recorking clinic.
However, many experts believe recorking can harm a wine, and the resale market is suspicious of recorked wines because it opens the door to fraud.
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