If you collect wine, you’ve probably asked yourself at least once how long is too long to store before drinking. In a recent letter to Wine Spectator’s resident expert Dr. Vinny, Henry from Cincinatti asked, “I have a 30-year-old Chardonnay. Is it drinkable?”. The expert started, “I’ve often said in response to questions like this that trying to guess if your wine will taste OK is like trying to look into a crystal ball.” Of course we know that there are a lot of factors that go into how something will taste. We’d be foolish to think that all 30 year old bottles of Chardonnay taste the same but the expert offered some more general feedback that may help you determine if your wine will be alright.
A wine that ages well is no random act. Proper storage in the way of temperature, lighting, and vibrations are all major factors in how a wine will age. A tip from Dr. Vinny is to always store you’re wine on its side so you don’t give your cork a chance to dry out. Plus you’ve got to start with a quality wine that has the propensity to age well. Most wines today are made for the ability to be enjoyed without aging so you might not find a wine that ages well at your local market or wine shop.
On Chardonnay, Dr. Vinny says, “I really have to be clear that the fruit flavors and acidity in a 30-year-old wine will fade, and it could taste unlike anything you’re familiar with.” She goes on to acknowledge that although the strong primary flavors in Chardonnay will fade, the secondary palette filled with nutty or earth-like flavors will be more prominent. However, at the end of the day you won’t know if it’s good unless you try it!