Can I prematurely age a wine without damaging it?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

If I have a wine that won’t be ready to drink for 10 years, and I’m too old to wait that long, will it be ready sooner if stored at room temperature rather than at cellar temperature (55° F)?

—Robert, United States

Dear Robert,

I don’t think that’s a great strategy. But let me back up here for a moment and grab my soapbox.

There’s really no such thing as a wine that “won’t be ready to drink” for 10 years. There are some wines that will age beautifully, and I’m hoping that you understand that and that you’re a fan of wines with 10 years of bottle age on them. Even the most ageworthy wines should drink beautifully upon release. Older wines don’t get better, they just get different.

But that recommendation for 10 years of aging is based on the principle that the wines will be stored under the best of circumstances. If you start playing with that equation, you start playing with the wine's potential to age well. And you risk the wine getting tired and over-the-hill rather than elegant and mature. A wine stored at warmer-than-ideal temperatures risks becoming “cooked” or otherwise compromised. That’s not the same thing as aging gracefully.

So consider enjoying that wine in its youth if you don’t feel like waiting. Plenty of wineries sell library wines of older vintages now, too, and you know those older wines have been stored properly at the winery. Hope that helps!

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny aging-wine cellars

More In Dr. Vinny

Can I store wine in a wine fridge that’s turned off or doesn’t work?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains optimal wine storage conditions.

Jun 5, 2023

What’s the best way to pour wine without any drops spilling or running down the side of the bottle?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers guidance for pouring wine like a pro.

May 30, 2023

If my friends bring an expensive bottle of wine to dinner, should I pay the corkage fee?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny weighs in on a dinner etiquette question …

May 22, 2023

Is it OK to recommend a wine that I don't like?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny shares advice for a wine professional who doesn't always …

May 15, 2023

Is it appropriate to hold my wineglass while a sommelier fills it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers guidance for navigating restaurant wine service.

May 8, 2023

Is it true that wine gets better as it gets older?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how wine evolves over time

Apr 24, 2023