To age or to drink? Your thoughts

Hello Berserkers,
I have been picking up a decent amount of wines that will be clearly better with age (Young Cab Sauv and Bordeaux blends), and I am always on the fence about drinking wine I already have versus waiting for the wine to be better. What are your thoughts on saying “F it” and drinking the '21 Napa Cab or saving it and drinking a cheap ready to drink wine instead?

I prefer the complexity of mature wines and still have bottles in the cellar that I bought over 40 years ago. I also buy wines for current consumption that are not going to develop on the same arc, so are intended for much earlier drinking.

Leave the ones that need time in the cellar alone, or you will be deprived of much of the pleasure of cellaring wines. There is a plethora of wine out there that will tide you over until the others begin to mature.


If I had it to do over again, I would drink the “cheap ready to drink” wines most of the time and only drink the wines that benefit from age for a specific reason. Although I still have some, I now wish I had more of the wines I bought decades ago (I started collecting in 1976).


For a newbie how do you even go about this? Buy multiple bottles of said wine and then taste one to determine if it will benefit from aging? Looking at cellartracker for the drinking windows seems crazy for some wines as drinking window is now to 2060 lol

1 Like

Say F it and enjoy it. If you are learning or don’t have much experience with a given wine it is even more important to get a sense of the wine/wines.

Young wines are underrated on this board. Yes, aged wines can be magical. But young wines, bursting with their youthful fruit, can be equally amazing to me. It is not an “either/or”, it is just vastly different experiences.


How old are you?
If you’re a pup, age them and see if you like them that way.
If you’re not buying green bananas, drink after decanting.
For me, aging wine always starts with the question, “how long are you going to live?”


Always, always, always, always, pop one young if you’ve never had the wine.

I’ve seen too many people build big % of their cellar based on recommendations or scores only to realize they don’t actually like what they hold :scream:!

Tasting young will at least tell you if the wine is in your wheelhouse. Once you know, you can take a flyer on opening new vintages based on vintage reviews and your accumulated knowledge.


hey Alex,

I’d say, wide range of answers here and you’ll get them all. I will happily add my thoughts:

I’ve been fortunate to have some really beautiful older wines. My wife and I joined a local branch of the International Wine & Food Society, which gave us some great opportunities to enjoy some much older Bordeaux and Souther Rhone wines than we’d typically had access to (at reasonable prices). What I found about these experiences and many others with older wines is fairly simple…Sometimes they’re magical and sometimes they’re really not.

What I realized most is that I’ve been so used to young wines that I’ve really had to temper my expectations on aged wine. Their is a tradeoff where the young elements (tannin, fruit, etc) are traded for tertiary characteristics (mushroom, earth, tobacco, etc). It really takes experience on older wines to know if you’re even going to enjoy them when they’ve “peaked”.

That said, I’ve opened young wines that others would have cried “infanticide” to find them either exceptional and balanced or overly tannic and too much alcohol - should have waited. I’ve also opened aged bottles that were peaking and felt like they were missing some of my favorite characteristics due to aging.

You have to first know what you like. If you enjoy older wines, the patience and excitement of seeing them in the cellar, knowing you have another 5 to 10 years to wait is not difficult, but rather enjoyable. If you love young bordeaux blends and cabs, I’d say enjoy them. Tomorrow’s never guaranteed.

I hate to give you such a non-answer, but it’s a personal decision. I have some wines that I wouldn’t open in the next 10 years because I’m confident they will be so worth the wait. I have others that are so ready to enjoy with an hour in decanter or a few double decanted, I can’t pass it up sometimes.

As all things, it’s so personal. Due to the nature of your question, I’m assuming you’re early in your collecting journey. Their are no wrong answers, but there will be many tongue and cheek regrets (wish I would have saved that one or wish I would have opened that sooner). That’s really the fun of it.

My suggestion - take good notes on what you like and don’t like. In 10 or 15 years you may run across an estate sale and get a second chance.


100% agree. This is why great wines are usually sold in 3 packs…so you can try one and see if it’s your style.


One to try. One to drink when you think it’s ready. One to drink when it actually is. :slightly_smiling_face:


Many good comments here; I would just add that there is a middle ground. I myself would not open any “serious” (and/or expensive?) red without giving it at least 4 -5 years downtime–to let it come together, lose some of the excess tannins, round into form and so onn. After that, it’s up to you, though I am in the camp of age’em if you can. (The above holds for whites also, though less rigorously, imho.)

1 Like

As a wise old man once said: “Life is short. Drink the good stuff.”


except a few (German) wines to drink young
I always age my wines.
I have enough from 1982/83 onwards to drink …

1 Like

In all honesty, the way that most wines are made these days, it’s safe to drink them, young or at least younger than one used to. That’s a generalization, but it seems to ring true with some of the regions you mentioned in your original post.


Hey Jim I’m 30, been into wine seriously for about 4 years. I think my problem is that I really want to know what the wine I buy tastes like and don’t quite have the budget to buy in large quantity. Ideally I’d like to go rebuy 2-5 bottles of things I think are promising to try at different intervals.

1 Like

Thanks Steve, good info

And the answer to that is???

Not long enough? :wink:


On one of his thankfully rare attempts at humor, Robert Parker wrote “The older I get, the younger I like 'em (wines, that is)”.

I find that the older I get, the older I like 'em (I’m referring to wine, women and song).
At 77, I’m no longer buying anything to lay down for more than 20 years… Jim Cowan’s question “how long are you going to live?” is relevant, but I don’t know the answer.

So: Buy one bottle, take it home, pop it and pour yourself an ounce. Take a sip and make some decisions: Stick the cork back in and give it a day (or a week), or
decant, let it breathe and then drink, or
decant and drink it right away, or
just drink it.

If you think it’s worth it and will improve, go back the next day and buy your 2 or 6 or 12 more bottles.

I imported Domaine du Pegau into the US for 35 years. When the 2016 was bottled, I tasted and bought 3 cases. They are sitting untouched in my basement. I expect to be gone before they are, but I’ll start popping them over the next winter or two. I’m guessing that I’ll drink a bunch and other people will drink the rest, and that’s fine by me.

Dan Kravitz


If you are planning on aging them proper storage is key. Winebid is a easy place to get some wines with age on them and see if you like them that way, could possibly find older vintages of the wines you like now. Would be fun and informative to drink your '21 Napa Cab next to a '15/'05 of the same wine.

1 Like

This makes complete sense, thank you