New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

  • Author Jane Tjosly
  • Published October 26, 2011
  • Word count 459

What you might want to know about buying older bottles of wine from

The risks and rewards of purchasing older bottles explained.

Every bottle of wine is its own little organic chemistry experiment. The older a bottle gets, the longer many different physical and chemical reactions have had to take place.

The first thing |The very first thing} i suggest you notice is the general condition of your bottle. Is the label in good condition? Badly torn labels indicate, at the very least, some careless handling in your bottle’s past.A moldy or mildewed label can in reality be a positive, showing that it had been kept in a humid environment.

The following thing you might want to notice is the fill level of the bottle. It’s inevitable that over time, a percentage of the wine will evaporate. All wines with lower fill levels might have problems with oxidation, as more oxygen in contact with the wine will hasten that negative process.

Wines stored at higher temperatures may also age faster than wines kept at a proper temperature, and you will find that a wine stored in too warm an area will often pass from maturity into old age before expected.

In viewing an older bottle, the clear chemical reaction happening stands out as the formation of sediment. Tannin molecules bind together in long chains until they become too heavy to stay in solution, at which point they fall out as sediment. If you cannot any see sediment in a red wine over 20 years of age, you would need to suspect something is not right with that bottle.

As wine ages, its color will become lighter and less red. Again, this is absolutely expected, and you will find a 50 year old bottle that shows the color of a young wine would have to be suspect.

Positive reactions also take place, or there would be little incentive to age wine. The molecules that produce the fruity flavors of young wines combine, break apart, and recombine often through the years, forming new flavors.

In addition there are negative chemical reactions that may occur in bottles that appear to be perfectly fine. The very first of these is for your wine to be “corked”.

A bottle can be contaminated by bacteria, from any variety of sources. The most typical contaminant is called Brett (short for the name of the bacteria that causes it), and causes an odor known politely as “barnyard”.

To summarize, the leading risks are oxidation, cork contamination, and bacterial contamination.

The joys of older bottles are many, and for lots of people, well worth the risks.

Clearly, the safest way to enjoy older bottles is to purchase them from a reputable wine merchant, such as 67 Wine.