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What is Library Wine?

by David on June 2, 2010

Is a wine library the same as library wine? Not quite.

If you’ve been collecting books by your favorite wine writers, you’re building up a valuable wine library and the answers to your wine-related questions are right at your fingertips. And, if you have a nice collection of old bottles, you might also refer to it as your wine library.

But, what about library wine? These are the actual bottles in your cellar – the ones you’ve been carefully aging for later enjoyment. When you pop one of those open for your friends, you’re treating them to a library wine.

Why bother building a collection? Because well-aged wine is a rare commodity. If you go looking for the 1987 vintage of your favorite Napa Valley Cabernet, today, your only option is to shop online. And, once you track it down it will, likely, put a good dent in your credit card. If you like to drink old wine, the most practical and economical thing to do is to buy young wine and age it yourself.

Of course, you need to store the wine properly or it will spoil. What a shame to age the wine for years and years only to find that it tastes like bad sherry or has gone sour.

If you buy an older vintage from another collector or at public auction, some offer guarantees regarding the cellaring history, some don’t.

So, what are you to do if you love the character of well-aged wine, but don’t have any on hand?

Some wineries put a little wine aside, to age, as library wine. If you call with a specific request, they may shake a bottle or two loose for you. They may even offer these older wines for sale from time to time. These, too, may be expensive but at least the winery can guarantee that the wine has been stored properly. Also, most vintners taste through their library wines from time to time so they can tell you what kind of condition the wine is in.


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