Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have some bottles of Cabernet that have lost some of their fruitiness because they're a little too old. I've heard that adding some Port (not tawny) can bring back the flavor of the wine. Have you heard of this, and if so, what amount of Port should be added to what amount of red wine?

—Arlene L., Somers, N.Y.

Dear Arlene,

No, I haven't heard about this, and honestly it sounds like a bad idea to me. Outside of an occasional mimosa or sangria, I'm not a fan of any sort of wine "cocktail," and I don't have any recipe to recommend.

But let's look more closely at your situation. First, you're correct that as wines age, their fresh fruit characteristics will fade. If it's an age-worthy wine that's been stored well, the youthfulness of the wine should be replaced by more mature notes that I would broadly describe as spicy or pleasantly earthy. While it can be a very different experience than drinking a newly released wine, I'd encourage you to have an open mind about tasting older wines.

If this flavor profile is not for you, I completely understand. But adding Port or any other substance to the wine isn't going to magically transform it and "bring back" the flavor that you feel is missing. You're just going to change your old wine into an "old wine plus Port" concoction—and, I'm guessing, it won't do either the wine or the Port any favors. If you decide to experiment with becoming an oenologist mixologist (oenomixologist?), I would recommend starting with a very small amount of Port, which I'd suspect would pretty quickly overwhelm an old wine.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.