The "right" time, at which a wine has reached the optimal maturity in its development and promises the highest, best possible drinking pleasure. The alternative term "drinking time window" (drinking window) describes more clearly that it is not an exact point in time, or by its very nature cannot be the case at all, but rather a more or less longer period of time. However, this raises the question of whether and how this can be determined or even predicted. In short, it can be assumed with a certain degree of probability, but it can never be determined exactly and certainly not to the month and year.
For simple red wine, rosé and white wine intended for quick enjoyment, the marketing time is also the drinking maturity. For better qualities, the time depends on the life span or shelf life. This is usually different between white wine, red wine and dessert wine. An important prerequisite for longevity is the development potential of the wine. Grape variety, grape care and reduced yield ("the less, the better") have a positive influence on this. The often used slogan "quality originates in the vineyard" is therefore justified. Nevertheless, a factor that should not be underestimated is also the way the wine is made or matured.
A high alcohol content contributes to longevity, which is obvious in fortified wines such as port, sherry and similar. Equally important is a "harmonious balance of alcohol, acidity and residual sugar". The ideal ratio of these three components can vary considerably from one wine to another, because wine is like a "living being". A barrique maturation or barrel maturation (untoasted large barrels) is also an advantage. And last but not least, a correct storage of the bottles, such as evenly cool temperature, humidity, darkness and airtight closure, also extends the life of the wine.
In wine guides, a "drinking period" is often given. An exact date is of course not possible, but the approximate life span can be estimated by professional wine tasters with a rough accuracy with for example "end 2020 to 2025+". This is the period of time by which a wine is likely to reach its "peak" at the end of this period, i.e. in the example in question it is still in "great shape" in 2025 and only then does the decomposition phase begin. Depending on the type of wine, this can be very different.
However, this drinking period would have to be verified by re-tasting within a reasonable period of time to confirm (or not) the prediction, especially for long-life wines. For professional wine guides such as Wine Plus (with head taster Marcus Hofschuster), the US-American wine critic Robert Parker, in the Italian Gambero Rosso and some others, this is partly the case. Only then is it possible to actually follow a development and objectify predictions, and as a side effect, learn an enormous amount from it. Nevertheless, predictions will always be mere suppositions or estimates and not scientifically based statements.
There are also some hints for laymen how to determine or at least suspect drinking maturity without having to open the bottle. These include, for example, the presence of a deposit (sediment) in red wines or the yellowish discolouration of a white wine (which of course requires light-coloured glass). Recently, a special device has also made it possible to use a hollow needle to remove the smallest quantities through the cork and thus be able to taste them (one such system is the Coravin brand).
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