I studied in France in university and brought a decent amount of French wine home with me. Some of that wine got consumed with friends pretty much immediately, but a few bottles I’ve held on to and moved from apartment to apartment over the years, saving them for a “special” occasion.
University for me was… a while ago, so looking at the bottles now, there’s a big question: Are these still drinkable?
I’ve been very careful about how the wines have been stored through the years, and aside from a few brief power outages during storms in summer months, everything has been kept cool and stored properly. The Washington Post recently ran a story explaining what else is worth looking for in those dusty bottles you’ve been keeping in the back of your cupboard.
Check the Cork
One of the first things you should do when determining whether a bottle of wine is still good is to look at the space between the cork and the wine. Most bottles should have roughly half a centimetre between the cork and the wine in the bottle. You don’t need to pull out your measuring tape for this if you have another bottle of wine in the house for comparison.
If your old bottle has more space than it should, there’s a good chance the wine has oxidised, evaporated, or seeped out through the cork.
Look for Leakage
Another good sign things have gone south? If you see what looks like leakage on the outside of the bottle. If the bottle was leaking at any point in its journey, that wine isn’t going to be too tasty now.
Do Your Due Diligence
It never hurts to look up the producer and vintage and just see what’s out there. You can see what others have said about the bottle (and when), and get a decent idea for how things are progressing. For instance, if all the reviews of the bottles have started to get worse in recent years, that’s a good sign that the bottle is starting to pass its prime and it might be time to drink it.
When in doubt, the best solution is always the easiest: Just crack the bottle and try it.