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.
Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 5, 2014 Another Idiotic California Law Screws Wineries Vinography Images: Vineyard Reflections The Fake Tongue Illusion and Wine Tasting 2014 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: October 21, San Francisco Cool Beauty: Tasting the Wines of the Western Sonoma Coast Vinography Images: Shaggy Companions 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting: October 26, Healdsburg Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 21, 2014 The Essence of Wine is Ready to Buy!
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