Wine expert Jilly Goolden on how long you should hang on to your bottles
PUBLISHED: 11:12 16 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:12 16 September 2014
Oddly enough, one of the questions I'm most frequently asked is how long to keep a particular bottle of wine.
If you buy your wine in supermarkets, the answer almost invariably is: Don’t keep it at all! Drink it up! I would say that about 95 per cent of all wine sold in supermarkets is ready to drink straight off the shelf. Many wines will keep for up to a year, but be prepared for them to deteriorate the longer you keep them after that. Modern wines are designed to be drunk, not to be laid down.
Wine technology has become such a precise science that the winemaker has almost total control over the fermentation process, and can now make wines that will reliably drink well fairly soon after they are made. Previously, winemakers neither totally understood the implications of each step of the wine-making process, nor did they have the necessary equipment to alter things to their wishes even if they wanted to. Making wine at the ambient temperature meant you had no control over the speed or length of the fermentation and what resulted was often a tough, abrasive wine which needed time to soften up and become approachable.
I’m talking generalisations here, but for the purposes of this article, I’m concentrating on affordable wines you can pluck off your local wine shop shelf. Recently I tasted a great number of 2013 “primeurs” wines from Bordeaux. And astonishingly, lots of them were delicious, even though they had only been made six months previously. Last year was difficult in Bordeaux, and because the winemakers had to work hard to make the wines acceptable, they threw all the modern technology at them they could and the wines are “modern” and approachable as a result.
In Bordeaux, such early accessibility for the wines is an exception. But for other wines, drinking them young is the norm. Sauvignon Blanc, for instance; I recommend you buy the latest vintage you can (and don’t be fobbed off with anything older than the previous vintage in a restaurant; you don’t want old stock)...and for rosé, the younger the better. You don’t want your wine to become coral round the edges. Young is good.
I’ve mentioned it before, but even though I’ve just been tasting rosés in Provence, I haven’t found a one to match Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s offering Miraval (£17.50 from Majestic).