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I have two bottles of volnay 1999 wine and I'm wondering if its still ok to drink and what's the best ways to tell? I also work for a distribution company that has alot of out dated wine that I can buy. What or how is the best way to check if the bottle is still good

Hi Nick

That's a really tough question.  First of all, I am going to assume that your storage conditions at the distributor are really good:  cool, dark and quiet.  So at least we don't have to worry about heat, light, or vibration spoilage.

Then we have to talk about the wines in general.  Most wines are not made for aging, but for drinking upon release.  But there are a few wines that will hold up well over time, and a few that will actually improve with age.  IN the first category, you can expect better quality red wines from most countries to hold up to five to ten years of storage.  They'll lose a little of their fruit, gain a little complexity, and still be somewhat interesting.

But there are also a few wines that will really improve with age.  Among the whites, the list is quite short--only the very best whites from Burgundy and German Rieslina will do well in these conditions, and even those are a bit of risk.  Top Champagnes will also do OK.

Among the red wines, the top of the list would be classified Growth Bordeaux, Barolos, the top wines in Burgundy, and some of the better wines from the new world:  Cabernet from Napa and top Shiraze from Australia.  

Dessert wines will also usually hold up just fine:  Sauternes, Port, Madeira, and Tokaji all age beautifully.

Now let's talk about your Volnay.  Without knowin the producer, it's hard to say, but this is now pushing the limit for most Volnays.  SO the only way to really tell is to open the bottle and try it.  You can search for the wine on-line--sometimes you'll find a recent tasting note that will give you good information.  Otherwise, it is a bit of a crap shoot.

IF you have a complete list, I'd be happy to take a look at it and at least break it into three sections:  wines past their prime, wines that should be great....and a bunch of wines that will fall somewhere in the middle!

Hope that helps.

Paul Wagner


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Paul Wagner


Wines of the world, wine a food matching, wine and food service questions. I currently teach Wine courses at Napa Valley College, am an international wine judge, written many articles for publication, and have been a guest speaker at way too many wine conferences to remember. 25 years in the business. With Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, I authored the definitive book on wine marketing: Wine Marketing & Sales, Strategies for a Saturated Market by The Wine Appreciation Guild, which won the Gourmand International Award in 2008 for the best wine book for professionals! With Rick Kushman of Capital Public Radio, I host a radio show and podcast called Bottletalk at, where I answer questions about wine and food on the air.


30 years in the business.

Society of Wine Educators, Academy of Wine Communications, American Wine Society

Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine, Fine Wine Journal, les Amis du Vin Journal, Society of Wine Educators Journal, and more.

I have taught at Napa Valley College for the last twenty years.

Awards and Honors
Spanish National Wine Fair: A lifetime dedicated to wine award. Espaderino della Castelania di Soave in Italy.

Past/Present Clients
Wineries include Caymus, Wente, Parducci, Shannon Ridge, Paul Dolan Wines, Vigilance, and others. Wine regions include the Union des Grand Crus de Borcdeaux, Union des Grands Crus de St. Emilion, Consorzio di Chianti CLassico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Consorzio di Franciacorta, Rioja Alavesa, and others.

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