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How to know if wine is still servable

So I previously posted about how to choose wines for a New Year’s Eve party at home.

Now I’ve decided (in true MSE style) to raid our cupboard full of wines and see what could be used from there!

So the bottom of our ladder has several bottles of wines, some which we’ve bought, others which were gifted to us etc. Problem is, I don’t know when they were bought/received! Some of them could literally be years old!

Ian there any way (without having to open and taste test each one) to find out if they are ok to serve?


  • esuhl
    esuhl Posts: 9,409 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Wine can last decades, or longer -- it often improves in flavour the longer you leave it. But... it depends on the wine and how it's been stored.

    Cheap wine is probably best drunk within a year or two. More expensive screw-top wine will last longer, but the flavours won't mature as quickly as with cork.

    Cork-sealed wine should lay on its side to ensure the cork doesn't dry out. It's possible for wine to become corked, which would impair the flavour -- not much you can do about that.

    I had some wine from 1985 a while back. It required decanting to get rid of the crystal deposits, and hadn't been stored optimally, but it was certainly rather tasty -- incredibly rich and smooth compared to an un-aged bottle.

    Also, I suspect that red wine would age better than white... but I'm not really a wine buff.
  • Newly_retired
    The best wine I ever tasted was about 20 years old, been in the cupboard, not particularly well stored over the years. It was a red burgundy, rich and velvety, full of flavour.
    But I cannot generalise from that one experience.
    I have opened other bottles and thrown the contents away.
  • NurseMoneySaver1122
    This is the problem; because I don’t know how old these bottles are/when they were purchased, essentially I won’t know until I open them whether they are any good.

    So if I reply on them for our NYE party, I could end up with no wine. So I think I’ll have to buy some MORE wine to add to the collection in case the cupboard ones aren’t any good.

    Even worse, I probably won’t serve the cupboard bottles in case they are spoilt...that would be embarrassing. And I don’t trust my own taste-testing as a good judge.

    Frustrating because there is potentially 20+ bottles going to waste 😫😏😔
  • nimbo
    nimbo Posts: 3,698 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    Get a friend round who’s taste you trust.

    Red should be allowed to breathe. Have a thimble full the day before of each. If it tastes like vinegar get rid.

    White is easier to tell if if is spoiled I imagine. (I don’t drink red) have a taste in the run up to the party that night.

    More people will bring a bottle that night too. Probably. Stick this on the table to drink that night. You know it’s safe.

    Keep the receipt for the new stuff you bought and take back if it’s not opened.

    You could always make some sangria or mulled wine to use up some of the red and white. Add a load of fruit juice and bingo! You’ve used a load of it up.

    My mil was horrified when she saw my partner making punch with a really nice bottle of red. Said it was a waste but we don’t drink red unless in punch. Someone had bought it round for our housewarming not opened it and then we’d wanted to get it used.

    Make a mark on the bottles done this year so you know what is new.

    Stashbuster - 2014 98/100 - 2015 175/200 - 2016 501 / 500 2017 - 200 / 500 2018 3 / 500
  • greenbee
    greenbee Posts: 16,294 Forumite
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    You should be able to use the detail on the label to look the wines up online and see whether they are recommended for drinking now, and possibly get advice on whether they need to breathe for long.

    Otherwise it's a case of open and see. Make sure you allow the reds to breathe for a bit before testing. And maybe decant or aerate if they taste a bit rough.
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