Skip to main content

What does it mean when tasting notes say:
Best after 2008
Best from 2003 through 2015
Drink now
Drink now through 2020

I understand they are saying when the wine is best, but specifically what is it saying. Does "Best after 2008" mean that the wine gets better and better after 2008 or that it peaks in 2008? Does "best from 2003 through 2015" mean that it will peak in 2015 or that it will peak in 2003 but still be really good until 2015? Does "Drink now through 2020" mean the wine is drinkable now and will be best in 2020 or that it is best now but can be drunk through 2020?

I just need clarification on what those descriptors mean in terms of the phases a wine goes through as it matures. What moment do they indicate in the life of a wine in terms of the year a wine peaks, the years between which wine plateaus, and the year a wine's quality begins to decline?
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Welcome to the boards, Baesill!

Grunhauser speaketh the truth.

And remember, the drinking windows are educated GUESSTIMATES at best.

Best after 2008 should mean that the wine is likely to reach a certain harmony by that time, no less, no more. It is generally very difficult to give a prices year for a peak in wine.

Best from 2003-2015 would indicate, in my book, that after 2015 it has, with some likelihood, lost most of its appealing character.

Drink now through 2020 means that it probably won't keep after 2020, not that it peaks then.
Good question, Baesill, asking about drinking windows and the wine's life cycle. And good answer, Markus, I'll just add a little to it.

The drinking window is really an educated guesstimate, based on knowledge of the grape variety, growing region, vintage and producer. Depending on the phrasing of the window, some point in the wine's life cycle and its complexity are indicated.

For instance:

Best after 2008: as Markus said, it's got some youthfulness to work out and will reach some harmony/resolution after 2008

Best from 2003 through 2015: the wine will improve and the plateau should last through 2015, at which point it will be in decline

Drink now: this wine is at it's peak now. It's either already aged to maturity (if it's not a recent vintage) or it is a fairly simple wine that will not gain complexity with cellaring.

Drink now through 2020: will be in decline by 2020. Knowing the vintage/type of wine would help decipher this drinking window.

I once asked Bruce Sanderson about a wine's life stages, and his rule of thumb is that the plateau will last for about as long as it took to reach the plateau. For instance if a vintage 2000 wine reaches it plateau in 2010, it will probably start declining in about 2020.

So when is a wine at its peak? Ultimately, you need to pay attention to your own preferences. Many winemakers are used to drinking young wines -- and they prefer young bottles to long-aged wines. Some British connoisseurs, with their access to legendary castle cellars, are used to, and prefer, more mature wines.

I hope that helps (and welcome to the boards).
before becoming sommelier i was maths teacher. I now understand none of these schools was good since I can't see what you mean, am I right? Anyway great comparaison Maths and Wine have complexity in common and not only. Congratulation for the hint whatever you might have hinted to.

Best regards
Julia Gosea

For the aging question better ask a sommelier or an oenolog- this is not a publicity for me- it is simply a way to say do not standardise. When you talk to a wine-person you have more than a book you have human contact and moreover you have a non uniformized vision. I always like the wine contests when I taste wines that are not on the market yet and discuss them with consummers that take part in the juries. No technical voccabulary/though human contact and exchebge and better understanding.
Originally posted by grunhauser:
Are you familiar with Pythagorean theorem?

Last edited by julia

What'll really drive you nuts is different reviewers often have wildly different drinking windows for the SAME wine.

Ones I'm always scratching my head over are Ridge Zinfandels. The winery often suggests holding them for 5, 10, or more years (nice notes on label) while reviewers invariably say "drink now."

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.