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Vintage Wine Acceptable Condition

Posted: November 1st, 2019, 10:48 am
by Brian Kim
I had an uncle who was an avid wine collector/drinker who recently passed away, and left a few cases of 1985/1986 Opus One. Upon inspecting the wine, they varied from bottle to bottle in the condition they are in. Some had fill levels to the base of the neck, and some had fill levels to the mid/top shoulder. Some seemed to have leaked a little but the fill level was pretty high and some seemed like they didn't leak at all, and the fill levels were to the shoulder. All the bottles were still in the wooden box cases wrapped in the white wrapping paper, so I was able to see if any had signs of leakage. My question is, what would be an acceptable condition for the wine in order to be considered still good to drink/sell? How can I tell by looking at the bottles whether they have been compromised or not? I understand that this is a very good brand of wine, and I am wanting to know the best ways of handling the wine. Any advice would be helpful.

Re: Vintage Wine Acceptable Condition

Posted: November 1st, 2019, 4:30 pm
by Bob C
Hello Brian.

Based on your description, the condition sounds pretty suspect overall. Any idea how they were stored? Guessing there must have been some sort of handling and/or temperature abuse for them to show signs of leaking while still wrapped and in box.

One option would be to take some bottles of varying degree to a trusted wine shop, and ask for their advice. Another would be to open a bottle or two and share with someone who has a good nose for faulted wine to assess.

Just a couple of thoughts.

Good luck!

Re: Vintage Wine Acceptable Condition

Posted: November 5th, 2019, 5:41 am
by Brian Kim
Hey bob, thanks for your advice. I will consider going by a store and getting an expert approval. I think that is the best option I have right now....

Re: Vintage Wine Acceptable Condition

Posted: November 11th, 2019, 7:01 am
by Ian Sutton
Knocking on 35 years is certainly enough age that there should be an acceptance of minor ullage, though there are still some who expect the level to still be in the neck).

For me, top shoulder or very top shoulder would not be a cause for concern, nor an excuse to argue for a discount
Upper shoulder ok, though a small discount might be sensible
Mid shoulder starts to be a concern
Low shoulder and below would be a big risk - one to open up and try rather than selling.

Re: Vintage Wine Acceptable Condition

Posted: November 28th, 2019, 7:29 am
by Doug Schulman
To have any mid shoulder fills, plus multiple leakers, at this age, is a huge warning sign to me.