2/27/11 at 10:00 AM
There’s a rule of thumb that wines, being “alive,” enjoy the same longevity as human beings. Most wines drunk today are about four years old, making them—according to this rule—the equivalent of snotty toddlers. Twenty years makes them supple and sexually appealing; 40 brings them to the edge of autumnal ripeness. The oldest red wine I have drunk was a series of early 1950s Penfold’s Grange sipped during a ghastly re-corking clinic in New York. Wall Street investors had brought in their bottles of 1950 and had them tested and topped up to make sure the wine they misspent thousands of dollars on had not turned to acetic acid. The wine itself was intact, but rather like the sturdy, nondescript moneymen who had owned it for the wrong reasons. Fifty-five and still puffing.