Can I send you pictures of these old bottles I found?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

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

Dear Carlo,

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.

—Dr. Vinny

Collecting Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

How do you order a glass of red wine? I want to try Zinfandel but I’m not sure how to word it.

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for ordering wine at a restaurant.

Sep 18, 2020

Why are beers aged in wine barrels? And what's a "foeder"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why large, used wine barrels, or "foudres," have …

Sep 16, 2020

Can I recycle wine bottles that have metal or plastic capsules on the top? Is it true that some capsules contain lead?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for recycling wine bottles and handling older …

Sep 14, 2020

Half of a broken cork ended up in my wine bottle. Is that OK?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice for what to do when a cork breaks.

Sep 11, 2020

Are all wine barrels toasted?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why oak barrel staves are toasted.

Sep 9, 2020

Why is “smoke taint” a problem? Don’t they clean the grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how smoke taint works, why it can't be "washed …

Sep 7, 2020