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Shun $2,000 Bottles of Geriatric Vintages, Go With Younger Wine

on 13/02/12 at 10:48 am


Pianist Arthur Rubinstein was fond of telling the story of the wine connoisseur who once invited the composer Johannes Brahms to dinner: “This is the Brahms of my cellar,” said the collector to his guests, filling the master’s glass from a dusty bottle. Brahms looked at the color of the wine, smelled it and finally took a taste. “Hmmm,” he said after putting down the glass. “Better bring your Beethoven.”

That’s the trouble with old wines. Even if kept in temperature- and humidity-controlled conditions in a million- dollar cellar: they can go bad, oxidize or simply not taste very good after years of aging.

As someone who has occasion to sample a lot of older wines, I have ceased being shocked that even a great vintage, kept under ideal conditions, can be a complete dud. Indeed, the older I get and the older those wines get, the more convinced I am that keeping wines for decades is a very risky business.


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