Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Buying "Use By..." Dated Wine

Two of the wines I've reported on recently--the Salice Salentino from Agricole Vallone and the Railway Shiraz by Hamilton Vineyards--were bargains bought on closeout from Harding's Market, a nearby supermarket that does NOT specialize in wine. Both were from the 2000 vintage--eight year old wines that were perceived to be nearing their "use by" date. There are reasons, of course, to be cautious about such wines.

I thought the wines were worth a try because:

1) I had not seen these bottles in the store previously. Even Chateau Latour on close-out may be no bargain if it's lingered on the shelves, subject to temperature fluctuations, for several years.

2) I checked the bottles and saw no signs of heat damage, such as low fills or corrosion or stickiness on the capsule.

3) I recognized the producers and wines that are generally considered ageworthy.

4) I tasted the wines before buying in quantity.

Most of the wines put on closeout at this supermarket are not worth a second look. And I once tried a promising Pinot Grigio that was oxidized. (I got my money back on this one.) But I have found a number of bargains, including some Annie's Lane Clare Valley Shiraz and Cabernet a few years ago. In each case, I've seen the same wine being sold at deep discount elsewhere as well at this supermarket. The store apparently received them from a distributor who was over-stocked and looking for a quick way to unload the wine. Although the "use by" date was a factor, it was one that in this case worked in my favor.

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