On special occasions friends or family have brought over expensive 20-25 year old bottles of Spanish or Italian wines to celebrate the occasion.

I'm no wine expert other than going to the local Liquor Store and asking the clerk to recommend a wine with certain qualities like dry, or sweet, fan favorites etc. I thought 'Oh, old means good.' Come trying time, the wine is thin, lacks flavor, no body or depth, it's happened to me twice now.

Other than the allure of holding something in your hand that you could say has been preserved for 20-25 years for this very moment you're about to celebrate, and maybe for a 25th birthday, a 25 year old bottle of wine would be appropriate as well, in terms of the consumption experience, I'd say it was mediocre. You know you're drinking wine, but it isn't memorable, nor is there any pull to do it again.

I've never had that experience with the 25-35$ bottles of Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese wine that I've bought and tried over dinner with friends and family. Maybe those wines are 1-2 years old, but they've been noticeably better. So much so that some pretended to like the old wine not to offend the person that brought it. Right now I can't see why I would even spend money on an expensive old bottle, when I know I can get what I like, consistently every time, and if I get tired of the same bottle I know I can try other bottles within that price range that wont leave me feeling like something was missing and I didn't get what I payed for. Either I keep getting brought bad old expensive wines or maybe something else is going on, I don't have much experience with old expensive wines?

What is going on? Can someone change my mind on old wines? Are there any whose juice is worth the squeeze?


1 Answer 1


Not all wines are suitable for keeping - and the ones that may be, still require good stable conditions with regards to temperature, sunlight and so on. Assuming the 20+ years old wines you’ve had were suitable and have been stored well, there still are other aspects worth considering.

Some districts have a ‘classical’ and a ‘modern’ style of wine making, where I generally find the modern more mainstream-friendly compared to the classical ones that typically pair better with quite specific foods.

At the end of the day, it most often comes down to personal taste; younger wines often exhibit more power and fruit while being a bit rough around the edges - whereas older ones are more subdued as the tannin levels have decreased, allowing finer notes to appear. Having an 'average at best' sense of smell, these notes are often wasted on me unless they are very obvious.

Example: While older Vintage Port (e.g. 1963, 1966) is regarded as more sophisticated than the newer vintages, I still prefer the sheer power of a 10 or 15 year old Vintage Port. Conversely, I always prefer older wines from famous districts such as Burgundy, Rhone, Bordeaux as they are made for storing a few years before release, making the newest vintages quite aggressive.

  • The bottles I've tried were very watery with lots of sediment, it was like everything settled to the bottom, so what's the allure to an aged wine then? Thank you for your answer sir, it is much appreciated :) Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 11:42
  • @nolemonnomelon Very few wines are meant to be aged 20 years. An average everyday red wine is meant to be consumed within maybe 5 years and probably gets worse with time after that. Some reds are very tannic young and additional aging soften the tannins and improves the wine.
    – Eric S
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 21:23
  • I agree. Virtually no wines bought in a supermarket are meant to be stored for 20+ years.
    – morsor
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 8:05

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