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Wine - to drink or not to drink?


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Greetings! My partner gave me a membership to a wine club in NYC and I received three bottles of wine per month. I have been a member for a while and have only opened one bottle (and it was excellent). My supervisor gives me wines as well. Now, I would love to drink the entire contents but I am seeking guidance.

How will I know which wine is a keeper? Meaning - one that will age (and age well) either increasing its value or not. How long do I age the wine?

Is there a website that offers this type of information?

Thank you.

Whoever said that man cannot live by bread alone...simply did not know me.
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The vast majority of wines are meant to be drunk in the short-term; there are very few that are age-worthy especially if your goal is to sell them for a profit.

Aging primarily benefits wines that have high tannins and good structure from the start. A flimsy wine isn't going to get better because you age it.

Wines that are distributed by wine clubs in particular tend to be ones that are meant to be drunk immediately as a wine club's goal is to allow you to experiment with a variety of wines.

So by all means save some bottles for a special occasion if you wish, but don't hold back in enjoying these gifts now.

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I usually think of a few grapes as aging grapes. The king of aging grapes is Cabernet Sauvignon. Varietal Cabernet or blends of predominantly Cabernet are usually good candidates for aging. I tend to keep Cabernet dominant Bordeaux for 8 - 10 years at least. It's possible you will get some ageable Cabernet in your wine club offerings.

Other good candidates for aging:

Red Zinfandel - Good for 5 - 15 years depending on pedigree.

Nebbiolo - Barolos can age and age.

Rhone style blends of Grenache/Syrah etc. - I like my Chateauneuf-de-Pape between about 6 - 12 years old, but can go longer depending on pedigree.

Most whites should be drunk sooner rather than later with very few exceptions like really good Rieslings.

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You've received some good advice here, and others could provide excruciatingly detailed advice for each wine if you happened to provide us with a list. But I wouldn't expect anyone to feel it necessary to do that.

The point about wine club wines is a good one. Wine clubs want you to continue your membership/subscription with them. Therefore, they want you to open the wines soone rather that later, crossing their fingers that you'll like them and desire to buy more.

Depending on how obscure the wines you have are, you can find very basic cellaring information from the producer's web site, reatiler web sites, or critics' tasting notes.

If you plan to consume the wines yourself, either sooner or later, the main thing to know is what do you personally like in wines. For example, although many Northern Rhone red wines can maintain or improve with cellaring, I have a couple of friends that prefer to drink them young. It's a matter of personal preference.

If, however, you are planning to resell the wines at an auction (I only mention this because you wrote something about "increasing value"), then you first want to make sure you have ideal storage conditions. If so, you'll have time to look up the cellaring recommendation for each wine.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Burgundies often age great. Champagne as well. Those French do amazing things with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. White Burgundies can be just awesome when given some time to express themselves. All that grilled toast and lemon. It's like drinking a complex dessert.

Often it seems to me the more expensive wines are those that shouldn't really be consumed young. These are wines with good intensity and high levels of acidity for cellaring. Paying $100+ for a very young Bordeaux then drinking it right away can sometimes be a real bummer since that wine might not really start showing itself for 10, 15, or 20+ years.

Then again I'm happy to grab a 2005 Sauvignon Blanc from California and down it immediately upon release with reckless abandon. Usually the cheap stuff is meant for buying, taking home, then popping right away or within a few months. You really don't need to worry too much about proper temperature and humidty levels because they're going to get downed quickly.

R. Jason Coulston


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