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Old Bottles of Port

January 10, 2013
Question by: Sue, via Mobile


My husband and I are currently clearing my mother in laws house and found 4 bottles of port which we estimate are between 15-25 yr old we have a vintage, a special reserve and a ruby port. I don't think in any way they are collectible or valuable but I would like to know if they are safe to drink and if not how we'd know they have gone off.


Hi Sue, Vintage Port is blended and bottled young with the intention that it should mature in bottle, and the finest Vintage Ports can be superb even after a century.  If your mother-in-law's bottle was kept in cool, dark cellar storage conditions, it should be perfectly enjoyable.  If you want to learn more, at the top of the left-hand side bar is a drop down box to search for Vintage years - find your year and go to the page to read about the general character of wines from that Vintage, and if the bottle is one of Symington's brands, you will see a logo for the brand name, which you can click to see tasting notes for the specific wine.  When you are ready to enjoy your bottle of Vintage Port, be sure to consult our guides to Decanting Vintage Port and Serving Vintage Port.

Ruby Port, and Special Reserve which is a slightly older style of Ruby, are both blends of young Ports from several vintages.  Both styles are intended for enjoyment in the short term, within a few years of release to market.  That said, if the bottles have been kept in good cellar conditions, they may be pleasant - you won't know till you try them.  To learn more about Ruby Ports, look at our Guide to Port Styles.

If a bottle shows signs of leakage, for example, wine stains which seem to have seeped out from under the capsule or the level of the wine is very low in the neck or shoulder of the bottle, then whatever condition allowed wine to escape would also have allowed air in, and the wine may pick up off odours from the cellar (See our head winemaker's discussion of this in another question about off scents on some old bottles), in which case the wine will simply be unpleasant.  At 20% alcohol, the wine itself will not be infected or spoiled or unsafe.

Impresso em

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