“Like a fine wine, I get better with age.” It’s an old adage that sounds nice, but we all know examples to the contrary. So how do you know if your wine is a Helen Mirren – one for whom the years only serve to undress her subtle beauty, grace, and style – or a Keith Richards – one that you wish had kept his clothes on? The key is that not all wines are “fine.” In fact most aren’t.
The truth is that 85-90% of wines produced worldwide are at their peak upon release and are meant to be drunk when you purchase them. As tastes are becoming more and more influence by a “new world” style of wine, that percentage is growing. Life is uncertain, and people want good wine now, not in 20 years when we’ll all be refugees in Antarctica. Yes, these non-fine wines can hang around for a year or two, and sometimes longer, but it’s not going to make them taste any better. And depending on how you store them, that extra time may actually make them taste worse.
So how do you know if you have a bottle from the other 10%, the kind that are designed to age? Here’s a good rule of thumb: if it’s under $20, go ahead and drink it . Those “fine” wines tend to be on the high end of the price scale. Here’s another adage: “Wine does improve with age. The older I get, the better I like it.”