With everyone doing an end-of-season inventory, I thought it would be a great time to give some pointers on which wines are going out of date, which wines are past their prime and which wines are so old that they’re only good for cleaning windows.
Check your stocks now to see if you have any of these 6 offending fails.
Prehistoric Provence Rosé
This is a perennial problem in yachting, and one that everyone should be on top of. Remember these are general rules and there are always exceptions of super special rosé which has amazing ageing potential. But like I say, in general, when looking at rosé vintages.
- 0 -1.5 years old = The best time to serve, drink and enjoy!
- 1.5 - 2.5 years = Still good, would prefer it to be a touch fresher but still good to serve and enjoy.
- 2.5 - 3.5 years = I wouldn't serve to guests. It will have lost almost everything which made it good.
- 3.5 years plus = Filth, I bet the colour isn’t even appealing, what are you doing still having this!
Look, rosé is really quite simple. What is it that makes it so good, so popular, so easy to drink? It is light, fresh and with delicate soft flavours and ageing will deaden all of those attributes. When it gets to 2.5 years old (eg 2017) you could serve it to the undiscerning drinker as long as it’s super chilled and maybe even with a few ice cubes (even if I just died a little inside as I wrote that).
Worn Out Whites
Whites are tough, it’s such a huge area and some are geared entirely toward ageing and, much like myself, will get better and better with age. It is very dependent upon the grape and/or style of white wine, and of course, there are many many exceptions, but in general, you are looking at the style of the wine. If it is an un-oaked, light and fresh wine it should be enjoyed in it’s first few years of life.
The key ones to look out for are the lesser expensive versions of Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, Pouilly Fume, Pinot Grigio, Gavi, Chenin Blanc etc. The more premium versions will age for longer but the more reasonably priced wines benefit from youth and are much more enjoyable. When they get too old the fresh fruits dissipate, the acidity reduces and there is just a worn-out, noticeable lack of freshness and life.
Past its Prime Prosecco
I see this one a lot and it’s concerning. Prosecco, what is Prosecco? In essence, it is a light white wine with bubbles made in big steel tanks. There are a few exceptions (premium vintage prosecco) but in the main, it is an unaged, fresh, crisp, light white wine with a nice bubbly mouthfeel. It will positively not improve with age. It should be treated as an everyday Pinot Grigio; if possible drink within 18 months. 2 years is ok but crack open a 3-year-old bottle of Prosecco and see for yourself. It will have lost its life, it will have lost what makes it so good and so drinkable.
Senior Citizen Champagnes
For me, enjoying mature vintage Champagne is a truly wonderful thing so to be clear, I’m not talking vintage Champagnes which will normally improve with age and have a long drinking window. Instead, I’m focusing on normal Non-Vintage (NV) Champagne. You know, Yellow Label Veuve Cliquot, Moet, Perrier Jouet the classics which we see everywhere.
To give you a bit of background these non-vintage Champagnes are multi-vintage blends and have already gone through extensive ageing before release. This means the are ready to drink as soon as you buy it. All the ageing has been done for you already, it’s time to pop the cork and enjoy. They are designed to be hyper-consistent. Every bottle you taste, whenever you buy it year in year out the Champagne should taste the same. Meaning, there is no need to age it further! It will not benefit for more ageing and as a rule of thumb, NV champagne should be drunk within 3 years. This is probably not an issue for the main pouring Champagne on board but I’ve noticed that NV Champagne Rosé and other backup Champagnes are often overlooked.
Once ‘Ready to Drink’ Reds
I’m afraid this one mainly comes down to price. In general, you get what you pay for in wine and often what you pay for is longevity. I’m not talking premium Bordeaux or Barolo but reds which come in under 20€. There is nothing wrong with them, I like drinking them but they are normally wines to be enjoyed young, within the first 3 years of life.
For example, when giving advice recently on a yachts inventory I noticed they had some 2015 Oyster Bay Pinot Noir, a 15€ New Zealand Wine. It’s good drinking wine, soft and fruity and ready to drink on release, but it will tire very quickly and fall off a cliff taste-wise. I would say it’s been over the hill for the past 2 years! On the other hand, they had some 45€ Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir from 2014, which is such a good wine that it will keep going strong for another 5 years.
Beware ‘Interesting’ Local Wines
We’ve all been there, someone at some point thought it was a bright idea to get in a few ‘interesting’ local wines. Maybe some Turkish, Croatian or Greek wines, for when you’re island hopping. This all sounds well and good but often guests only like what they like, so unless there’s a wine explorer on board, these ‘interesting wines’ will be long forgotten.
So double-check the vintages of these lesser-known wines, check the history and trackback when they were bought in because some will be tired and passed their best. Especially as coming from such warm climates, the whites will often become lifeless within a year or two.
to conclude…let Onshore Cellars do the work for you
The addition of a detailed wine inventory to your seemingly never-ending end-of-season ‘to-do list’ is a certainly a good idea. Use my guide and hopefully you will have a much better idea of what you’ve got and when to drink it.
Alternatively, why not let me do the work for you for free…like many of our clients before, simply send me over your inventory list and I can advise you on what is good to keep. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and can easily advise on what needs to be served up soon and what needs to be avoided so much it’s probably now classed as crew wine 😉