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Dear Dr.Vinny,

Wine Spectator provides recommendations as to when specific wines are drinkable at their best. If a wine has been cellared under ideal conditions, does this extend the recommended age?

—Paul W., Naples, Fla.

Dear Paul,

Our drink recommendations are given with the assumption that the wines will be cellared under ideal conditions. It’s too iffy to predict how wines will age under less-than-ideal situations.

Generally, our recommendations are conservative; that is, we focus on the time frame when the fruit remains fresh and expressive. Some people prefer the taste of full maturity, when the fruit flavors evolve into notes more reminiscent of tobacco, cedar and spice. The only way to discover your own preferences is to try wines at various stages from youth to old age.

This is a good time to remind everyone what ideal storage conditions are. Keep wines away from light, heat, vibration and—most importantly—temperature fluctuation. For many people, this means the corner of a closet. If you have a cooling unit, cellar temperature should be maintained at 55 degrees F, with about 70 percent humidity and a 10 percent chance of rain. (That rain joke never gets old.)

—Dr. Vinny

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