When to drink

With a special bottle of wine, there is ample opportunity for angst about when to open it.

On the one hand, an expert pontificates wine will be best in five years. Do you really have that much patience? What is the harm if you dare open it “early.” Likely answer is no harm at all.

Wine evolves, and a wine expert may believe it will continue to evolve, eventually reaching a plateau where it will not get better. That is the expert’s recommended drink date. That does not mean the wine is not drinking well right now. If an expert was rapturous, he tasted before you bought and long before drinking-best date.

There are exceptions—high end Bordeaux and Italian Barolos often are so tannic, rigidly structured, tight they can be almost undrinkable young. Barolo may have to age in bottle for 10 years, but wineries hold back bottles before sale for most of that time. If you are buying in those categories, you either know wine or you should seek expert advice.

Other side of this coin is what if you don’t open until bottle is past its prime? If you hold a premium bottle for years, there is great reluctance to part with something so embedded in your wine fantasies. The joy of seeing that special bottle in your stash may be greater than drinking it. You are not a bad person if you leave it there.

Good news: almost all wine you buy today is good to drink today. You can let it settle for a couple of months or a couple of years and it may or may not get better—it also is unlikely to get worse. Don’t over-think this. Pull cork or let it lie. Wine is joy, not angst.

Tasting notes:

Cosentino Winery Cigar Old Vine Zinfandel 2015: All you expect from big juicy zin. $20

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2013: Seriously good, outstanding price.

Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Villages Puyméras Rouge 2014: Fruit-forward pleaser; decant. $15

Last round: I finally did my taxes last night and drank three bottles of wine. When I went over paperwork this morning, I saw I had a three million dollar refund. Wine is so great.

Email Gus at wine@cwadv.com. Facebook: Gus Clemens on Wine. Twitter: @gusclemens. Website: gusclemens.com.