I see reviews for highly scored wines that are not ready to drink. How can a wine that's not ready score so highly?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I often read wine reviews where the reviewer gives a very high score but then says not to open it for four or five years because it's not ready yet. How can a wine that's not ready score so highly?

—Jeff, Sacramento, Calif.

Dear Jeff,

If a drink recommendation, or window, suggests cellaring a wine, we’re not saying it’s not “ready.” Rather, the taster is suggesting that it might show better with some time in the cellar.

I know it seems like drinking windows involve our tasters looking into crystal balls, but they are experts in their beats, so the crystal balls aren’t so murky. They look at a combination of factors, including a wine’s structure, flavors, intensity and acidity. They have vast experience tasting wines from these regions at different stages of development and that gives them the insight to make these suggestions.

The vast majority of wines drink well upon release, and most aren’t meant for aging. We are admittedly conservative in our drink windows because we understand that aged wines are an acquired taste. Finally, drink windows are only recommendations. If your experience tells you that you prefer wines on the younger or older side, by all means, follow your own tastes.

—Dr. Vinny

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