On Wine  

How Long Should You Age Your Zinfandel?


by Fred McMillin


Your wine shop has a display of affordable Zinfandels that are one through five years old. Which should you buy?

Chardonnay and Cabernet

Earlier (When Will Your Wine Taste Best?) we made similar studies of the USA's two most popular varietals and found:

Chardonnay—Best two years after the vintage date. One year old and three year old bottles averaged lower scores,

Cabernet Sauvignon—Best to wait until five years old.

Now on to Zinfandel.

The Study

My tireless tasters have tackled 48 Zins in recent months. The wines were from one to five years old with prices from $10 to $26.

The Results

  • 1 Year Old—Cleary scored lowest of the five groups.
  • 2 Yrs. Old—Improved over one-year group, but still next to the bottom.
  • 3 Yrs. Old—Distinctly better than the first two.
  • 4 Yrs. Old—Still improving.
  • 5 Yrs. Old—As good as 4 years, but not better.


My tasters found that these affordable Zins reached their peak in four years, one year earlier that the Cabs.


Here are the best Zins of each group.

  • 1 Year—Frey, $11 Mendocino
  • 2 Yrs.—Sobon, $16 Amador County
  •             —Lake Sonoma, $22 Dry Creek-Saini
  • 3 Yrs.—Sobon, $20 Fiddletown
  • 4 Yrs.—Trentadue, $18 Dry Creek Valley
  •             —Adelaida, $25 Paso Robles
  •             —Sunset, $18 Suisun Valley
  • 5 Yrs.—Deaver, $25 Sierra Foothills


Statistics by Nora Molabola and Juliet Velasquez


And a Final Wine Smile

We know vintages are very important to wine lovers. For example, in California 1997 was clearly superior to 1998. Which reminds me of the great Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat. After he received a salary increase, the Babe was asked by a reporter if he wasn't embarrassed by the fact that he was making more than the president of the U.S.A.

The Babe: "No. I had a better year!"


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


Copyright © 2007, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.


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This page created August 2007


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