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When To Drink Wine from the Cellar

Do not let wine storage be an end in itself. You bought this wonderful wine and possibly spent a little more, so do yourself a favor and plan to drink it. For a lot of wines this is one of the toughest aspects of cellaring, as there is no way to know when it is at its best. If you have the wherewithal, purchasing a case or several bottles of a particular vintage works well, as you may spread drinking of that particular vintage over an extended period of time. For example, drink the first bottle a year after purchase and then just sample one bottle a year and note the wine’s progress.

While there are no absolutes, ageable wines follow a certain developmental path that sometimes includes an intermediary period when it “closes” temporarily. If you were to plot the life of a wine on a graph, it would start at a certain quality level when young. If it is a good candidate, as years pass it will follow an upward path to a certain point where it would level off. Yet some may also experience a dormant period in their early years during which the fruit flavors sort of disappear—and may make it less enjoyable—but it will eventually begin climbing to new heights. In any case, once the quality levels off—and it may stay at this level for some time—it is likely the optimum time for drinking. After that, the wine will begin to decline.

Cellaring is great fun, interesting, and is possible for anyone who loves wine. But just remember that ultimately it is all about taste and enjoying that delicious glass of wine. Cellaring or not, that is why you bought the wine in the first place!

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