Friday, November 2, 2012

How-To: Tell if a Wine is Too Old

For most of us, it's tough to gauge from taste alone whether a wine is too old. If the flavor is off, it's just as likely that it's a poor quality wine, or an issue with the specific bottle. But when selecting a wine, there are a few tricks to keep in mind to avoid getting a bottle that is past its prime.

For higher end wines, wine critics often provide a window for when they think it will be best to drink.

It's important to remember that most wines are meant to be drunk right away, after they have been released. For white wine, they tend not to spend much time fermenting or barrel aging, so they will usually be released about a year after they were harvested, and labeled as such. Red wines often spend more time in the barrel, so the winemaker may release them two years or more after harvest. For both, its best to drink them within a year or so after they have been released.

In your local wine shop, keep an eye out for wines that have been overlooked. Single bottles tucked away in corners on low shelves run the risk of sitting there for far too long.

As wines pass their prime, both reds and whites begin to brown in color. It's often hard to tell the true color of a wine through the bottle, but if you hold the "punt" or base of the bottle towards a light source, you can get a clearer view.

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