Back when I was just getting started in my own self-education in the world of wine, I had the problems that many young wine drinkers have: I didn't have much money, and I didn't know what I didn't know. Actually, I was very aware of my lack of knowledge across many areas of the wine world -- I hadn't tasted many different varietals, and certainly not from many areas of the world. One of the things that I didn't become aware of, though, until much later, was how much I had to learn about the way that wine ages -- something that I could only do much later by spending a lot for older vintages at restaurants, making friends with deep cellars, and proactively cellaring my own wines.
My friend Tom over at Fermentations has a fantastic post this week about a way to get that education about what happens in the bottle to different varietals over time. The answer: buy bottles for less than $25 at auction. Tom walks you through how to do it.
One of the things that Tom doesn't mention however, is that it's important to realize that in some cases (no pun intended) these bottles will be bad. A few will just taste bad because they are older and have lost some of the qualities that many people look for in wine: bright fruit, nice acidity, lush flavors. But some will be bad because they are spoiled or damaged or "corked."
Sometimes people buy wine at auction and find out that it's heat damaged or spoiled and then they auction it off themselves, passing the damaged wine around until it runs out or until someone opens it and doesn't know any better than to just drink it. Unfortunately these auction houses don't offer any protections against this to speak of, so you're taking your chances.
However, the risk of getting a bad bottle or three is worth the education you can get, and the money you can save in the process.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Highlights from Tasting Champagne with the Masters Off to Portugal for a Drink Vinography Images: Hazy Afternoon The Dark Queen of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Domaine du Pégau Does California Have Too Many AVAs? Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 26, 2014 Vinography Images: Shades of Autumn 16th Annual Pinot Fest: November 22, 2014 Hang out with the World's Top Wine Writers. For Free. Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 19, 2014
Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 KirÃ¡lyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy