Look Out Any Drinking Window
Well, it seems that this time of year is “Missing, Presumed Drunk” week in my house.
After swearing not to get into this position again, I recently noticed that my CellarTracker account wasn’t synced up with the wine I actually had in my house. So this past weekend, I took the extremely normal and not at all extra route of pulling every bottle out of the fridge, cabinets and my cellar and stacking them on every flat surface in my living room. Then I went down the list, and either found the bottle or marked it as missing (presumed drunk).
Y’all, this is the worst game of Memory ever. Not a fun task for someone whose grasp of object permanence is tenuous at best. “I just...saw that bottle...five minutes ago!” And you don’t even get to drink them! (Note to self: just...open the app and mark it consumed when you open the bottle.)
Why would someone put themselves through this 2+ hour ordeal? (I have over 100 bottles accumulated over the years. Couple minutes per bottle = wheeee.) Well, turns out I’m more of a perfectionist with masochistic tendencies than I realized. But it’s also a practical shopping tool. I can see where I might have an excess of one varietal or one region. “You've got seven bottles of chardonnay at home. Try something else, huh?”
CellarTracker also allows you to store “drinking windows.” Sadly, even the best wine won’t stay high quality forever. You might plan to drink a bottle from your wedding on your 10th anniversary, which, awwww. But unless you’ve been storing it in optimal temperature and humidity conditions, you may just have a pretty bottle of vinegar waiting for you. Drinking windows give you an idea of when you can get the most enjoyment out of your wine. It can even help you plan ahead. I have a 2014 King Family Vineyards Meritage that Constant Reader M gave me for my birthday five years ago, and the drinking window doesn't even start till 2021!
One of my wines that's recently edged out of its drinking window is 2014 Red Tail Ridge Blaufränkisch. Red Tail is on the west side of Seneca Lake in New York. Blaufränkisch originates from Austria, but seems to do well in the cooler humid climates in New York and in New Jersey. (It’s the signature red of Beneduce Vineyards.) (I’ve got a bottle of that too.) (Thank God that has a nice easy-to-spot distinct label.)
I opened the Red Tail Ridge up Thursday night, and it’s still a terrific wine. The beautiful garnet color is just showing a slight touch of brick. (As wines age, red wines tend to get browner and whites get oranger. Oranger? Go with it.) The aroma is not super bold, but has mellowed to blackberry bramble. The mouthfeel is still very good and has a little bit of leather and cedar on the palate.
So is it about to fall apart or anything? Did I catch it just in time? It probably would have been okay for a little bit longer, but I can see where the vibrancy would start to fade as we get more into this year. My cellar (that is, my converted coat closet) isn’t temperature controlled, but it allows me to keep my wine out of strong light, which can cause wines to age faster. Drinking windows are probably more art than science. But another benefit of tracking your collection on CellarTracker is you can get the input of other folks who have your same wine, and they can note whether a young wine would do better to wait a while, or whether an older bottle is past its prime.
And speaking of a community of like-minded wine fans! Tickets are now on sale for the NJ Winemakers Coop's Spring Portfolio Tasting! It's on Sunday, May 31, the Sunday after Memorial Day Weekend. This spring’s event is at Working Dog Winery in Robbinsville, a half hour drive from Princeton and a 20-minute car ride from either the Princeton Junction or Hamilton NJ Transit train stations. I’ve already bought my VIP ticket. The extra hour to taste while listening to a panel discussion with the winemakers is a great opportunity to listen and learn. Hope to see you there!