I found some very old wines that weren't stored properly. Are they safe to taste?

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 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.

Dear Gary,

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 My guess is that they will taste oxidized—the wine's fruit flavors will have been replaced by nutty, Sherry-like notes.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!

—Dr. Vinny

Collecting Aging Wine Health Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Should I be worried about small temperature and humidity changes in my wine cellar?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice for wine storage and a helpful tip for …

May 29, 2020

Is it normal for old wine to be cloudy?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where sediment comes from and strategies for …

May 27, 2020

I love screwcapped wines, but I had two stored on their sides that started leaking. Is that common?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains proper storage for wines with twist-off caps.

May 25, 2020

What are wine tasters trying to communicate when they describe “texture”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the concept of "texture" in wine, and how …

May 22, 2020

Can I grow wine grapes in Ohio?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice and resources for anyone considering …

May 20, 2020

What’s the best way to keep an open bottle of wine at the ideal serving temp?

Wine Spectator 's expert Dr. Vinny offers some tried-and-true methods for cooling down a …

May 18, 2020