When’s the best time to drink wine?

Mary writes:

In a recent “What we’re drinking” post, Brynn talked about the Novelty Hill Red wine that she enjoyed at a friend’s house. Later, she snagged a bottle of the same wine, but it didn’t wow her like it had before.

Have you ever had a glass of wine and not finished the bottle? OK, maybe several bottles were opened and you drained one that was fantastic and the other was put to the side. And then came back to it a few days later and it too was fantastic?

Someone in the wine industry once said: “Each day a bottle of is open is equivalent to a year’s worth of age.”

Back to that unfinished bottle: Which glass of wine was better? The freshly opened glass? Or the dregs of the bottle?

There is no right or wrong answer; it’s just another piece to the what-you-want-in-a-wine-puzzle. Some palates prefer the fresh fruity, bright flavors of the younger wines. Others prefer a more intense fragrance, and smoother taste of the aged wine. You make the call.

Back when the British ruled the waves, most red wines were made in a style that mandated laying it down for a decade or two. Fast-forward to the past fifteen years or so and the winemaking styles have changed to keep up with demand.

I attribute the change to the wine cooler hay day. Wine coolers in my mind are a wine with training wheels. And it’s a drink-me-now kind of wine because all the chips are stacked in the fruit department.

More and more people were drinking more and more wine. Laying down a wine was not as important as it had been and wineries began pumping out wine to be drunk in the near term.

But always on the other end of the spectrum will be aged wine. This wine’s flower of youth has faded and what’s left falls more on the mineral spectrum of the tasting wheel. Flavors like pencil lead, cedar, tobacco, gravel and mushrooms will be the highlight of these wines.

Some wines are meant to be kept a few years, others drunk right away. If you prefer the fruity, crisp, oaky wines, stick to drinking vintage. If you want to give wine time to mature, think about buying two bottles — one for now and one to lay down for a year or two to see how it changes with age (just remember to save your notes from the first time you drank it).