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Dear Dr. Vinny,

The Round Table Sommelier Talk article about “wine moments” had an interesting story: Andy Myers mentioned a 1967 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour that he initially thought was over the hill, but learned that it needed a few minutes to "wake up." When do you know that a wine is truly dead? Brick edges, prune notes, etc.?

—Jim H., Houston

Dear Jim,

Personal taste will prevail, of course. You might prefer older wines and I might like them on the younger side. And I’ve had those moments when I was about to give up on a wine but it came around. I’ve also had the reverse happen, where I was enjoying a wine that faded faster than I could drink it.

But when a wine is truly over the hill, it really doesn’t have much left to express. I hate to say you’ll know it when you taste it but … you’ll know it when you taste it. You might find some charm still or it is a curiosity, but the pleasure factor is gone. It might show off nutty, Sherry-like oxidized notes, but it won’t express much beyond that. Some wines that I’ve toe-tagged have also had an unpleasant musty note—more like wet mulch than like TCA, and others have an odd metallic or vinegary aftertaste.

Bricking on the edges and secondary notes like prunes or cooked fruit could be a sign that the wine is maturing and not necessarily past its prime, but they are things to keep an eye out for.

—Dr. Vinny

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