And I’m not just talking senility and wrinkly tushies.
On Thanksgiving day, my uncle decided it was time to break into his collection of wines, which for the most part had been hanging around since his wedding in the early seventies. We went through, oh, eight or so vinagered, corked, and otherwise stingy, prickly, fumous bottles before running for the beer.
The highlight of the afternoon was a 150-year old Madeira with a leaky cork that I think might have actually grown claws and a fire-shooting tail. Some in our group (most notably and stubbornly my mother) decided that after a half hour of aeration, it was actually drinkable. Let me tell you, it was not. Argument ensued: Sarah and another uncle vs. Mom and Brother-in-law. Oren was asked to break the tie, and diplomatically (as usual) decided, “Well, it’s not trying to scratch off the surface of my tongue anymore.” Ironically, one of the other wines-gone-bad tasted like a pretty good Madeira.
The moral of the story? Like people, not all wines age gracefully. An easy way to figure out how long to keep which wines is to ask your local wine merchant. If you’re thinking of building a collection, decide what your goals are: Do you want to have a few great wines to drink every 5 or 10 years? Do you want to save a few bottles to give to your grandchildren on their wedding days? Another option is to consult a wine aging (ageing) chart like this one. Make sure you’re storing the bottles in the correct conditions, as well.
If you decide to give aging a shot, good luck! And maybe keep a couple beers on hand, just in case.