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No Waiting Game for New Wine Arrivals

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: May 14, 2008 4:43pm ET

It’s been a long-time ritual of mine. Like so many customary habits that become simple routines, whenever I buy a new wine, I open a bottle that same night.

It doesn’t much matter if the winemaker warns not to touch it for four weeks or for four months. I know wines can be jostled about during shipping and it’s probably best to let them rest and get over their transit shock, but I don’t wait, not unlike a young kid who can't wait to open their Christmas gifts.

Me, I can’t wait to pull the cork on my newest acquisition. Most of the time it’s a wine I’ve loved in one of my blind tastings. But even if it’s not a wine from my beat, when the wine arrives I open it, even as the number of bottles I buy has dwindled from what used to be case purchases to three or four bottles.

And I can say this: Aside from an occasional bad cork, I can’t remember the last time I was disappointed by my impulsive desire for immediate gratification.

Leo E Fenn Iii
May 14, 2008 4:58pm ET
Sir, where are the promised reviews of Ovid and Futo, they seem to be left out of the insider report
James Laube
Napa, CA —  May 14, 2008 5:03pm ET
Patience, Leo...Ovid hasn't been released yet (though I wrote about it about a year ago and you can see my barrel notes). Moreover, I can't respond to every request about if and when a wine has been reviewed. We review about 150 wine a week; Futo was excellent.
Dana Nigro
New York, NY —  May 14, 2008 5:13pm ET
Leo, to clarify, it was only the Seven Stones that we said would be in this week's Insider. Jim simply said that reviews for the others would be forthcoming--whether they appear first in the Insider, a Tasting Highlights or the magazine Buying Guide, we can't yet say.Dana Nigro, Managing Editor, WineSpectator.com
Richard Robertson
Charleston, SC —  May 14, 2008 10:03pm ET
Definitely agree with you on this one. When my mailing list wines arrive I have to open a bottle immediately, just like Christmas morning. When my 2006 Kosta Browne showed up from a friend I had to crack the cork immediately to give it a try. Even though I was worried with your comments about the 2006 California Pinot Noir I was surprised at the structure, ripeness and development of the wine over a few hours. Definitely not a disappointment and it was great to see your review of the wines today. Might not be as strong as previous vintages but most wineries would take these scores and be happy. Truly a sign of great winemakers that they can take an off-vintage and still produce a wonderful wine. Also speaks highly of where they source their fruit.
Dan Jaworek
Chicago —  May 15, 2008 9:55am ET
I have to confess that I'm the exact opposite. I can be stubbornly patient when it comes to opening new wine. I trained myself to do this years ago after I bought some cab/merlot based wines and couldn't keep my hands off of them. As I was finishing the last bottles, the wines were just coming into their own. I was so disappointed that I drank them so young. Now I wait patiently for the textures and flavors that I'm looking for. And with the price of wine always on the increase, I feel that I can't afford NOT to. Dan J
Blair Zielke
Burlington Ontario —  May 15, 2008 10:17am ET
I have the same feelings. I always buy 2 bottles at the LCBO if I see something new and interesting. What sucks though is when the one I open when I get home sucks! Then I have another to drink, or gift I suppose! Cheers. Love your blog.
May 15, 2008 12:37pm ET
James-Many people accuse you of only liking very young "over blown" very tannic styles of wines. Do you think this habit plays into this theory? Obviously, you have gotten use to very young wines in your personal drinking...I tend to hold wines (for long periods) and my tastes are more towards delicate "elegant" styles. I am sure my habit effects my judgement.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  May 15, 2008 2:02pm ET
I'm far more inclined to crack one open on arrival if I get more than 3 bottles and/or it's already been reviewed and the note says "Drink now through....". Otherwise I worry that I'm going to open a bottle only to find out later that it got 97 points and a note that says, "Needs time. Best from 2010 to 2015."
Andrew J Walter
Sacramento,CA —  May 15, 2008 2:55pm ET
You are a man after my own heart. When my Justin, McPryce Myers and Hollys Hills shipments arrive, I am always opening something that I should not!!
Jim Mcclure
DFW, Texas —  May 15, 2008 3:35pm ET
I tend to buy multiples if it's something I feel likely to enjoy, and when it's a half case or more of a new bottle/vintage, I'll go ahead and open one usually. If I love it then, then great! If it seems like it should wait or advise says it will improve, then I can spread out the purchase and compare my own notes as it develops.
Richard Martinez
Reno, NV —  May 17, 2008 4:01pm ET
I received the following email from Sea Smoke right after my shipment arrived;Dear Sea Smoke List members, Many of you have already received, or will soon be receiving, your shipment of our 2006 vintage. Thank you again for your order and for your support. We recommend cellaring the 2006 vintage for at least 90 days, to allow the wines to recover from the shock of travel and recent bottling. The 2006 Sea Smoke Botella Pinot Noir will age well for another three to five years, while the 2006 Sea Smoke Southing and Ten Pinot Noirs can easily be aged for another five to seven years in your cellar.
Sandy Fitzgerald
Centennial, CO —  May 19, 2008 11:01am ET
Patience is a virtue. I never open a bottle immediately upon receiving it. I'll wait a minimum of three months, or longer as recommended by the winemaker. I still believe that wineries should hold the wines until they are over bottle shock, then we might only have to hold them to get over transit shock.
Susan Aventi
Las Vegas NV —  May 23, 2008 10:32am ET
Richard Martinez:
I got that email from Sea Smoke as well. Shook us up a bit! I thought I was being prudent waiting at least a week before opening a club shipment. Live & learn...
Shelley Miller
Natick, Ma. —  June 2, 2008 10:08am ET
Has anyone had the opportunity to taste the 2006 Sea Smokes now that Kim Curran is gone? I'm waiting as long as I can before my son"s allocations are used. I've been holding him off til we have an opinion. Thanks, Ronna Miller
Brad Paulsen
Saratoga, CA —  October 15, 2008 8:35pm ET
I did try the Southing '06 and thought it compared favorably to the '05. The '04 is still the strong and chewey champ. The newer issues are brighter (euphamism for the good side of lighter) and thus more classicaly Pinot. I still think SS is the tastiest Pinot for my money. As far as Ms Kris being gone she left at the end of '07 so my guess is the '06 is hers and the '07 will still have her prints on it. In direct response to James' can't wait philosphy I am also guilty as charged.
Michael Hynes
February 8, 2009 8:23pm ET
opened pio cesare barolo 2004 right after it was sent to my office. highly rated wine and it was very bad. IS THIS WINE SHOCK AND IF IT IS HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT TO TRY THE NEXT BOTTLE. ARIVED 12/23/2008 Any other comments will be appreciated
James Laube
Napa, CA —  February 9, 2009 11:20am ET
Michael, very bad doesn't give me enough to go on. If you had it a month, bottle shock shouldn't have been an issue. Could it have been a bad cork? Or spoiled, as in cooked or heat damaged?

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