Any wine enthusiast knows that age is prized. Oenophiles build cellars and buy fridges to "lay down" their bottles. They know the greatness of past vintages. 1982? A classic year in Bordeaux. A '47 Lafitte? Trade you my sister for it. Age is beauty.
But the vast majority of wine is consumed within a year of its release. And most bottles within 24 hours of purchase. For wine that costs less than $20, these majorities are definitive, well over 90%. And the reality is that these wines were designed for exactly this kind of consumption. Winemakers aren't stupid. They know what you're going to do with their wine. They build it to drink now, not in 10 years. Only serious wines get better with time.
Most wine scientists will admit that the chemistry of aging is little understood and largely unstudied. So why this fetish for old booze? Especially amongst people who don't often (or ever) drink it.
We don't know. But we thought it would be worth some investigation at the Lab. So we bought 2 cases of wine from varietals recognized for their ability to age. One red, from Burgundy. One white, a Riesling. Each costs more than $20 a bottle (if just), and so can be considered serious. Our plan is drink a bottle every 6 months. See what happens. Learn what lessons we can about a wine's EVOLUTION through time.
Like watching paint dry. But with alcohol.
Up first: The Riesling. (coming soon.)
(* I rescued the 1970 Yquem in the photograph from my wife's childhood home in Australia. Her father bought it on release, stored it indifferently and eventually forgot about it. It was in a box with "other old plonk we're pouring out." Now it's at the Lab. Until I open it, it is a very serious wine, a symbol of good fortune and ripe with magic potential. After, it'll just be some vinegar I've been keeping in the fridge. )