Column: When is a wine ready to drink?

One of the most frequently asked questions about wine is when is the right time to open a bottle of wine? Here are some tips.

  • Most value wines (under $30) are usually very good to drink right away and will last for the next 2-5 years (counting from the vintage or wine bottle year). Red wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz can last for several years.
  • The more common wines (those not dated on the bottle) are intended to be consumed immediately after purchase or within two years. These wines usually do not need to be decanted.
  • Most white wines, with the exception of very high-end Burgundy whites, are usually good for five years after the vintage. These wines usually do not need to be decanted.
  • Most non-vintage (bottle dated) champagnes can be enjoyed immediately after purchase for about five years. Vintage champagne is usually best 10 to 25 years after the vintage date. A 2002 vintage champagne, for example, needs to be drunk right now at its best.
  • For red wines, the more expensive wines ($50 and up) usually require some aging before it’s the best time to enjoy them. These typically require 5-8 years of aging from the date of vintage. In general, the more expensive the wine, the more it should be aged to its optimal drinking age. As an example, Château Lafite, a wine that costs nearly $2,000 a bottle, typically requires 20 years or more of aging before it can really taste good. Get better.

What if you’ve been gifted a bottle of wine and have no idea about its price or quality? Your phone has many wine applications that can tell you a lot about wine. . I use Vivino and Wine Searcher, others use Cellar Tracker. All of these will give you an idea of ​​wine prices and when to drink them.

What happens if you open a truly great wine too young? This is why people are disappointed with very expensive wines.

What if you open the wine too late? It’s not the end of the world, but generally the wine loses its flavor and becomes a very sour or very tannic taste with no other flavors. cannot be best expressed.

As a general observation, most people keep wine too long, thinking that all wine has an infinite shelf life. In most cases, opening the wine is the right decision.

There is no substitute for a drinking experience. So the more wines you try at different times in your lifecycle, the better you know when to open them. Until next time, have fun!

Tony Kwan New columnist for Richmond News. Lawyer by day, food and wine lover by night, Kwan is a foodie who writes about enjoying wine, food and all things life has to offer.

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