One of the things you encounter, after your friends learn of your obsession with wine, is that they too start to obsess when you’re sitting at their dinner table, and they’ve provided the wines. Though I tell all who will listen that wine is personal, and you should feel comfortable sharing the wines you like along with a neat story, and any normal and decent human will be more than happy to give it a try, and share in your wine bliss. Well, this theory was put to the test the other night.

A few evenings ago, I went to friends for dinner, and they insisted that I drink and review a wine they were sharing that evening; Pisse Dru Beaujolais. I’ve had some fantastic Beaujolais in the past and given the light makeup of many of them, I am mindful of the year, and this Beaujolais I was being served was a 2007. Given the vintage, I knew a review would do this wine no justice as it was already out of it’s prime. But, what do you do when faced with a host wanting so desperately to share a wine with you that you know won’t be that good.

Wine Etiquette When Faced With A Misfortuned Vintage

Educate without pretence:

When I looked at the bottle, I declared “Ohh… I love a good Beaujolais. Have you ever had the 2012 vintage of this wine?” Now I have never tried it, and guessed that neither had they, but I knew it would taste a heck of a lot better than the 2007 we were about to have with dinner.  I then went on to explain that this is meant to be a light young wine that drinks exceptionally well immediately  and, as a result, it would be interesting to see how this one would perform in the mouth.  With the first shred of doubt out in the open, we moved on to the next strategic comment.

Find points of praise

I continued to speak well of the varietal my host had picked and went on to say that if their palate liked Beaujolais that they would also like fine wines such as…. My host was engaged in the conversation, especially given the compliment I gave their palate, and actually wrote down my recommendations with a claim that they would pick them up early next week. Now we’ve got them engaged and willing to try new wines from suitable vintages that will undoubtedly enhance their wine experience.

Smell, taste and ask questions. Don’t scold.

When it came time to have our first sip of the unfortunate vintage, I noticed my host made a wincing expression, and I could Wine Aging Charttell he didn’t like what he was tasting.  So, I asked “what are you getting from the wine?”. He used words like vinegar, fruit less, sour and more. Though he didn’t take the time to smell the wine first, I simply started to talk about what younger vintages of this would probably smell and taste like, which of course was more blissful than our current experience. After the taste test, my host decided that we should move on to the only other thing he had in the house; gin and tonics.

For me, it is always important that I get invited to dinner again, but more than just that, I always want people to feel empowered to explore wine as they see fit.  I would hate for one bad aging experience to ruin an individuals wine quest and already my host has initiated another wine taste test at their home. Perfect!

Other tell tale signs that a wine may be too old to drink

  • Older wines have a distinct vinegar like scent
  • The wine takes on a brownish hue
  • Due to evaporation, the wine bottle may not be full
  • Utilize the chart on the right from to help your wine aging decisions.


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