How can you tell if a wine is too young?

By / Magazine / May 10th, 2017 / 10

Drum roll please … Check its birth certificate? I’m sort of not kidding. Just look at the label dude and check the vintage year (which is the date the grapes were harvested). When a wine was born gives you your first clue if, and that’s a big if, you can appreciate its pleasures.

A run-of-the-mill table wine is built to enjoy right out of the bottle with most consumed within 48 hours of purchase, so if you’re spending under $25 just get your drink on. If we’re talking a wine with some pedigree, then how old it is will speak volumes as to its eventual consumability.

You always pay more for complexity and longevity, so use that as your guide. Wines with big bones, and big prices, need time to mature, so if you have a bottle from a recent year burning a hole in your cellar you should think about decanting it. Decanting will introduce oxidizing air to every drop of the wine, artificially aging the juice and taming its youthful exuberance.

If you’ve found your lips close to a glass of something obviously unbalanced, muted in flavour and overpowered by tannin (when it comes to reds), you have a wine way too young to drink.


Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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