I was talking to my girlfriend while finishing off a bottle of a very good, but not great Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Apalta Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 and said "After 4 hours of drinking this wine, this really has loosened up." She said, "Yes, but not nearly as much as we have."
Original Post
Although the original post is light hearted, I think it raises a point I haven't thought about in a while. After drinking wine and enjoying the moment, I think that I become much less critical of wine. It is true that wines can open up and show better after a few hours, but I am often reading notes where the drinker writes that the wine was showing its best just as the last glass was poured. Does this evolution come through the wine, or does it come from the drinker? After a few drinks, and while having a good time with friends, do we become less academic about the wine? Does that make us less critical of the wine. Does our "loosening up" allow us to enjoy the wine more, in a hedonistic sense, raising our academic assessment of the wine from say a 91 to a 93? Speaking for myself, I can say that I am biased by such events. Wine always tastes better at the vineyard or while traveling in France and Italy. It's bias, obviously the wine doesn't change, but my environment changes my perspective...As for the Casa Lapostelle, the wine was truly singing by the last glass.
I've certainly experienced bottles that didn't budge over the course of a couple of hours open, or decanted. Certainly so wines that also got worse within that time frame.

So, I think that perception under the influence of alcohol can be a factor, it is also true that wines do change over time, once opened.

My most common problem "under the influence" is revising downward my opinion of the big, brash, toasty-oaked, modernisitic wines that show so much force in blind tasting. It's common for me that, as we sit finishing off the bottles, that the oaky, new school stuff proves to be less interesting to drink than the more traditionally styled wines (we're speaking of Europe here).
It's true chaad, the big wines are easy to love in small doses, but it's hard to keep that excitement over the long haul. More elegant wines, they don't knock you're socks off with the first sip, but somehow you love them all the more in the end as you learn to appreciate their unspoken beauty.

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