As a wine lover, I’m always concerned over when a bottle of wine should be drunk — not time of day, mind you, but when in the wine’s life.
Every wine is different, of course, as is every palette, so there’s no one absolute right answer. But there are some general guidelines one should follow — red wines will most often age longer and better than white; certain wine-producing regions, such as Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, are noted for wines that will last years, and in some cases, decades, and so on.
So, what happens when you ignore the rules, when you allow inexpensive white wine to sit around in your cellar years longer than it’s supposed to? When wine that was meant to be consumed within a week of purchase is consumed many years later?
This was the unfortunate, unhappy situation I was faced with as I discovered a number of bottles of elderly white wine, mainly inexpensive California Chardonnay, tucked into nooks and crannies in my cellar turning into what I feared would more closely resemble vinegar than wine.
Or, would it? I would only know the answer to that if I popped the corks on these wines. It would be a learning experience for sure, but not one I was looking forward to.
Then, like the Grinch, suddenly I had an idea. Farm them out. Give the wine to someone eager to learn and willing to be a guinea pig for that knowledge. Brilliant.
That’s where Lindsey Mayfield and a group of her University of Kansas sorority sisters stepped in. Mayfield assured me she would only share the wine, or whatever was in the bottles at this point, with those sisters who were 21 years old or older. And I made her promise that if any of the bottles were truly horrific, the contents should be dumped immediately.
I also wanted tasting notes detailing what the group liked and disliked about the wines and why. They would gain invaluable wine knowledge and I would get some insights into wines that lived much longer than intended. It was a win-win.
So, here goes, some random notes — with scores even — on random wines that collected dust in my basement before bringing joy, I guess, to a group of young ladies.
Little Black Dress (2006). It was okay, but not great. Kinda sour. We’d drink it in a pinch. Like if there was a blizzard outside and it is all we had. Average 5.2/10.
Sebeka (2007). Tasted like bad cheese. Most people didn’t like it at all. Average 3.5/10.
Barefoot Chardonnay. Tasted like a regular barefoot, didn’t taste old. Average 5/10.
Dancing Bull (2007). We love it! Average 7.4/10.
Redwood Creek (2006). We hated it. Average 2.8/10
And to finish we say, “Thanks for the wine, Dave!”
So, what was learned in this little experiment? Keep better track of the wine in your cellar, and if you do happen to lose track of some inexpensive bottles find some folks who’ll do the tasting for you. Thanks Lindsey.
Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.