Should we drink this 1980 Nederburg Dry Red?
August 5, 2009 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Is the 1980 bottle of dry red Nederburg wine I have going to be drinkable?

I know nothing about wine.
posted by ashputtel to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
Best answer: It won't kill you.

There's only one way to know. And that's not a flippant answer. Most people don't have the cellaring facilities to look after old wine for extended periods, but if it's been well-tended, or you were given it by someone who had a cellar, it might be tip-top. It might not. You can't tell by looking.

Don't take it uncorked to a dinner party. Something that age is probably going to need decanting and breathing time in any case. Treat it as a home experiment. Let it stand for a while. Open it, see if it has thrown a sediment. Taste. Decant it. Taste again. Leave it for a while. Taste again. Etc. More advice here.
posted by holgate at 1:32 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

On followup to holgate... careful of that cork, make sure whoever is doing the work knows what they're doing. I can't tell you how many old bottles I've drank with bits of cork because the waiter was too aggressive.
posted by teabag at 1:39 PM on August 5, 2009

Sounds like a great learning experience. It *might* be very nice, it might be flavorless and flat, it might be totally off. Should be interesting in any case. I'd look forward to it as something fun and exciting, myself. But:

Don't take it uncorked to a dinner party.

Agree completely.
posted by gimonca at 1:40 PM on August 5, 2009

How has it been kept? If it's been in an area that's consistently, or even intermittently, above about 70F, it will probably taste like cardboard. If it's been in a cellar or in the back of a closet away from heat and light, it could be decent.

As far as whether it was a good wine in the first place... I'm not sure the South African wineries had really hit their stride yet in 1980. And it would have to be a pretty big, bold red to hold up for 30 years in the first place, and even then it may be over the hill by now.

Something that age is probably going to need decanting and breathing time in any case.

Not necessarily. I've heard sommeliers describe particularly brittle older wines as having a sort of "whiff" of flavor after you open them, and then being totally flat and dead after half an hour of exposure. So... pour a taste and try it out!
posted by rkent at 1:41 PM on August 5, 2009

Almost certainly not. Bordeaux with lots of tannin sometimes get better for thirty years, but most wines should be drunk fairly soon; if it hasn't been stored in perfect conditions, it's probably near-vinegar. By all means give it a try—what's to lose?—but don't expect anything.
posted by languagehat at 2:10 PM on August 5, 2009

The refs to Nederburg in 1980 suggest that it was basically cab sauv and cab blends, so there's more of a chance that there's something still there worth drinking, and less chance of it being as brittle as a very old Bordeaux or some other varietal of that age.

I've got some reasonable Bordeaux that I've kept in a cool, dark under-the-stairs stash for a good length of time, but that stuff's made for aging. This, probably not so much. But you really never know.
posted by holgate at 2:55 PM on August 5, 2009

Where did you get it and how was it kept?

If I were a betting man, I'd bet it'll be awful. Sorry!
posted by 2oh1 at 7:08 PM on August 5, 2009

I once drank a couple bottles of a 15 year old Nederburg special release and they were excellent (though clearly past their prime). Open it, to be sure, but 29 years on this winery seems far too long, especially if it's just an average bottling. Good luck and let us know.
posted by converge at 7:43 PM on August 5, 2009

Response by poster: It was kept in a basement cupboard and basically just forgotten for years.

I'm no wine expert, as I said, but I thought it was fine. I was expecting it to be terrible, so it was a nice surprise. Wouldn't serve it to guests though!

Thanks for the insights everyone.
posted by ashputtel at 3:39 PM on August 9, 2009

« Older I'm looking for a device that can wireless play...   |   How do I do the best job of recording the story of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.