How Well Do Wines Hold Up with Time?

Wine Enthusiast Magazine, February 2018

Wine Enthusiast Magazine, February 2018

Last time we looked at the factors that make a wine more capable of bottle aging. And, somewhat surprisingly, there are very few wines that actually hold up well in the bottle, even with proper storage.  So then, what wines do hold up?

The results reported in Wine Enthusiast's 2018 Vintage chart (February 2018) are very revealing. As you might expect, wines from the Bordeaux region of France can hold up very well. And, most of the wines from Bordeaux are still currently at their peak dating back to 1998.  Twenty years!  But beyond that, the vintage guide suggests that wines before 1998 are likely in decline and may be undrinkable.

Then there are the California wines.  Again, as you might expect, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon's are holding up well back to 1994. But, the real surprises come with other wines that just aren't as age-able.  For instance, the Napa and Sonoma Zinfandel's are only showing good back to 2007. Russian River Pinot Noir is showing good back to 2007, while a Syrah from the Central Coast of California is only holding up back to 2010.

So, the key point to remember is that only select wines are really age-worth while most others have a relatively short time that they remain drinkable. This is a lesson that a lot of us learn the hard way. We hold on to really nice wines and wait and wait for that special occasion to open them.  But, as I recently learned, I held some too long. And I'll share that story next time. Until then, Cheers!