Any worthy possession, to be preserved, requires a lot of care and ideal conditions. Even the ancient 'mummies' required a lot of pre-preparation and the ideal place to keep them to make it seem as if time stood still for the Pharoahs entombed in them. Unfortunately, the wine that was buried with them did not 'survive' in the same manner. On a more serious note, wine is better drunk young. It can be cellared and preserved for 20 or 30 years, but that is the case with only some good vintages. The bouquet, flavor and color is what makes the wine such a delight to savor.
Very often when someone finds an old and ancient bottle, it feels like a time to rejoice in the discovery of a treasure. At other times someone keeps a bottle of wine because the first time they had that wine was a memorable occasion, and they would like to have it again when another occasion seems just right! But, somehow that right time turns out to be the wrong time for that treasured wine, and that discovery is not the valuable treasure you thought it to be. It will in all probability be undrinkable. If you still want to be adventurous and give it a try, pull the cork very carefully as it most probably has become very fragile and could disintegrate. Don't stir the bottle as it will mix up the sediment. Decant it carefully, pour it and drink up. If there is any life at all left in it, it will probably not last long enough to let the wine 'breathe'. And of course, you will have to be prepared for a small shock where the color is concerned, could be anywhere from dark and muddy to totally uninteresting and repulsive. In case lady luck holds fast in your case, you could get a whiff of some earthy and complex aromas.
It is always best to take a dilemma like this to the experts and get their opinion. Always good to get second opinion as well! There are few wines that age really well. The Shiraz of Australia is one such. It can be had young or old. The young Shiraz, or Syrah as it is called in France, is fruity and when aged in the cellar for 20-30 years will mellow into an almost sweet wine with earthy and velvety notes. Like all aged things, it grows or matures in character.
The really expensive old vintages come from Bordeaux, in France and other regions. To name a few of the best in Bordeaux - Chateau Petrus, Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Lafitte; in Burgundy - Roman?e Conti, La Roman?e and La T?che; in Alsace - Riesling and in Australia - Penfolds Grange.
Most wines are best drunk young, within the first 2-3 years. Wines which are stored in poor conditions will mature rapidly causing the onset of oxidation which will spoil the wine. Storing wine in cool conditions away from heat and sunlight will keep them well till it is time to uncork the bottle and raise a toast of long life and good health.
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