Good wine improves with age.
Wine experts seem to be pretty clear on this matter: almost all wines should be drunk fresh – normally within a year or two of bottling. Like most foods and drinks, wines have an optimum period of consumption, a natural “Best Before” date, after which they will start to decline in quality. Wines kept too long will become “stale”, in the sense of lifeless and even musty, and will lose their colour. In the past, before scientific precision replaced guesswork, many young wines were far more acidic and heavier in tannin than they are today, and therefore it was wise to cellar them for a while in order to render them palatable. Today, some sweeter wines, champagnes and a few reds are intended to be aged in the bottle for five years or so (provided they are kept in ideal conditions) before consumption, but the vast majority of all wines – between 90% and 99%, say the oenophiles – should be drunk now, not saved for a distant special occasion. One cause of confusion may be that very old bottles are sometimes worth a lot of money; but they are usually sold to collectors, as rarities, not for drinking.
www.nytimes.com/1987/01/18/magazine/wine-a-musty-myth. html; http://winereviewonline.com/Paul_Lukacs_Myth_of_Aging. cfm; www.yahoo.com/style/12-myths-about-wine-busted-by-asommelier-127011119136.html; www.historytoday.com/charlesludington/politics-wine-18th-century-england
This column is no wine expert – but then, nor is anyone else, since the whole pile of nonsense was entirely invented by the newly-dominant middle class of the industrial revolution, who were trying to establish their superior taste and refinement in order to legitimise their rise to power. Still, if any wine snob does wish to correct our errors, please feel free to swirl your thoughts around your mouth before spitting them out in the letters pages.
A few years ago, an FT reader came across a curious “fact,” and wants to know if it’s true: do more people die in deserts from drowning, than from thirst and hunger?
214: OLD WINE