Can I prematurely age a wine without damaging it?
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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
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!