Why are old wine desireble but other alcoholic beverages have a best before date?


Why are old wine desireble but other alcoholic beverages have a best before date?

In: 40

You’re confusing a few things here. Generally the only ‘best before’ alcohols are beers and some alcopops and other things, not wine, I’ll get to those in a bit but lets start with wine and liquor.

The most important reason old wines are valued is because of their rarity. The older the wine is, the less there are around, so they are prized as once they are all drank, they’re gone, forever. That wine will never exist again. If its a particularly good wine, and its rare, well then thats a prize.

Wine continues to age in the bottle as, however, the vast majority, like almost all, wines are meant to be drank when its bottled. That is a wine maker generally bottles a wine when its ready to drink. However, a wine will continue to change flavors as it ages, this may be good or bad flavors, but it will change, and some people like some wine aged a bit or even wine experts may be able to understand what flavors will change as a wine ages and choose a specific time to open the bottle. Occasionally wine makers on higher end wines may suggest additional aging in the bottle for some of their wines, but generally its a fairly short time frame of only a year or so. Note: if for some reason you see a “best before” date on wine, its probably like a box wine or something and they are concerned about the packaging leaking or degrading over time, which could make the wine go bad from the air.

Liqour does not change in the bottle, once its bottled its as it will be, although very small amounts of evaporation may occur. When you see agining on liquour, its not how long it was in the bottle, but how long it was aged (generally in oak barrels for stuff like whiskey). The longer it stays in the barrel, the more flavors from the barrel it takes. Longer barrel aging is not necessarily ‘better’, its just different. A 21 year old whiskey means it spent 21 years in the barrel, not made 21 years ago. So an old whiskey from say 1950 you found isn’t gonna taste different than when it was bottled, but its old and rare.

Beer has best before dates becuase it uses fresh ingredients, primarily hops, who start to lose some of their hop flavor about 30-90 days after being brewed– for this reason, getting freshly brewed beer, such as at a brewery can often have more fresh or hopped flavors than getting an older can/bottle. (additionally seals on some cans can get compromised over time, which will make the beer lose its freshness, carbonation, or both). Beers are essentially a grain and hop “tea” and that loses flavor over time in many styles.

Some beers however, can be aged in the bottle, just like wine, many of these beers will be darker beers like stouts or belgian dubbels/quads, as overtime they develop deeper flavors.

Old wine could be expensive because it’s a rare collectors item and might not be drinkable anymore. It could be expensive because it had to age in barrels for many years, which represents storage space and delayed reimbursement for the cost of production, which a business needs to pay for.

And not all wine gets better with age, some is meant to be drank fairly soon. As far as I’m aware, all types will eventually turn into vinegar.

Lots of other alcohol will never go bad and really don’t have a best before. Vodka would keep basically forever.

Wine bottles are not fully airtight. The porous cork allows tiny amounts of oxygen into the bottle over time. The super slow oxidation of the wines gives them an arc of aging as phenols develop, and as malic acid & citric acid get slowly converted into acetic acid. Wines will become pleasantly oxidized, then overly oxidized, and finally turn to vinegar.

The desirability stems from two main points. 1, The wine becomes less available over time due to consumption. And 2, people want old wines for their complexity and are willing to pay someone else to be patient and do the aging for them.