Sometimes we forget that while it is useful to age table wine for a while, great wine must be matured to reveal its full spectrum of flavours. This distinction between everyday wine and the more serious bottles is not always evident, though you would be forgiven for thinking that price alone should provide a clear enough indication. Table wine is supposed to be a decent enough beverage that might survive many years in bottle without actually evolving. The better stuff is supposed to “pay rent in your cellar” by transforming from cygnet to swan.

Predicting the potential of a young wine is an act of augury. The basic building blocks required for ageing must be in place, but after that, there’s more guesswork than science. It helps if you know the pedigree: vineyards which have long yielded age-worthy wines are likely to continue to do so. For those without a track record you may as well look at the entrails of a chicken to determine their prospects.

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