Opening Your Older Bottles – We Have Some Tips!
It’s the holidays, and no matter how or when you celebrate, it’s the perfect time to break out that special bottle (or bottles) you’ve had tucked away in the cellar. Whether it’s a ‘99 Apogee or the Syrah you picked-up during your first visit to the Schoolhouse, there are a few things to keep in mind when opening older vintages.
Stand Older Bottles Upright
Do so an hour or so before serving to allow any sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle. The larger the bottle, the earlier you should stand it upright. While sediment can be a sign of well-made wine, it is better for it to stay in the bottle, than in your glass.
Removing the Cork
It is normal for the cork in an older bottle to crumble. We love using the Ah-So (a two-prong cork extraction tool) to remove older corks. If you are not familiar with Ah-So, check out the video below to see how it works.
If using a corkscrew, go straight in the center. Once the cork starts coming out, take care to not ratchet it to one side. Pulling straight out will help keep the cork in one piece.
And if Bits of Cork Should Appear…
Don’t sweat it if you end up with bits of cork in the bottle. Simply place a wine strainer or even a small fine-mesh colander atop your decanter to strain.
Using a decanter allows the wine to breathe and open up and also helps prevent sediment in your glass. Older wines (10-15+ years) may be more delicate and should only be decanted briefly. Decanting is not an exact science, so trust your personal preferences and enjoy observing how the wine evolves over time.
Ben Dimitri, CSW
Access to aged bottles from the winery library is reserved exclusively for Wine Club Members. Members, feel free to send us a note with requests. Not a member? Click here to explore club benefits and options.