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Dear Dr. Vinny,
What’s the harm in drinking a highly rated wine before the recommended drinking window, when experts say it will be best? Can you drink a wine too young?
—Joseph G., Houston
No harm at all! If a wine got a high rating, you can bet that it will be pretty tasty right now, assuming it’s a wine that’s made in a style you enjoy. Wines don’t magically get better with age, they just evolve, and sometimes a wine expert might suggest that a wine might show its best several years in the future, with its evolution. That's especially true for some Old World wines like France's Bordeauxs and Italy's Barolos, which can be exceptionally tannic, tight or rigidly structured when released. Wines like that can be really well-served by a few years or more of aging, which allows structures to soften and tannins to integrate more completely with fruit flavors.
Everyone’s own tastes are different, so if you know you like young wines, there’s no reason to doubt yourself. The tasters at Wine Spectator make drink recommendations based on their experience of when a wine might be at its peak—and a “peak” tasting time can be over several years.
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.