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 Pinot Noirs that were made in 1987. They haven't been properly stored, and the corks appear to be compromised. Is the wine still safe to taste?
—Gary, Portland, Ore.
The good news is that old wine won't make you sick if you taste it. But it also might not taste so great. My guess is that they will taste oxidized—the wine's fruit flavors will have been replaced by nutty, Sherry-like notes. Oxidation happens when corks fail and the wine is overexposed to oxygen.
Even if they had been stored properly, most red wines that old will display some typical signs of age, which can include changes in color, toward tones of brick or even brown, and they often throw some sediment. Tasting older wines can be a very different experience to that of tasting a recent vintage, but it's always educational!