I know this is going to sound strange but...

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Woodstock

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Hi folks, I'm new here and I have what I believe may be an unusual question.
I came into possession of a couple of bottles of wine that my grandfather made long ago. I don't know when but he passed away in 1998. I had stored them away and basically forgot about them. Having rediscovered them my obvious question is, are they safe to try? I know absolutely nothing about this wine other than the fact that my grandfather made them sometime before his death in 1998. I realize I'm not giving you guys much/anything to go on but I'm curious what you'd do with this stuff. Thank you in advance for your opinions.
 

sour_grapes

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They are unlikely to be unsafe to try. They very well may be unpalatable or spoiled. I would certainly crack one open, pour a glass, and give it a sniff. If it does not smell revolting, then give it a sip.

AFAIK, there are no "bad guys" that BOTH hang out in wine AND do not reveal themselves by being disgusting. I am hoping @Rice_Guy weighs in here...
 

Boatboy24

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Hard to say. The alcohol and acid in most wines is enough to keep them from becoming unsafe to consume. But there are no guarantees. Unless you're willing to submit each one to lab tests, the best bet is to use your eyes and nose. Again, no guarantees. But if there's not an off odor try a sip.
 

Mismost

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I would pull the form and give a taste....if it's good thank Grandad.
If it's not so good, I would see about making vinegar out of it... Just because Grandad made it!

I hope it's
 

Woodstock

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Thanks for the replies guys. I opened one bottle and gave it a whiff. It doesn't smell bad so I guess I'm going to give it a try. It smells like muscadine to me. If you never hear from me again maybe drink a toast in my memory.
 

berrycrush

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Cheers to you and granddad. This gets me thinking that maybe it's a good idea not to keep bad wines around to avoid embarrassment down the road ;-)
 

Rice_Guy

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Wine is a preservative system. You have extremely low risk of any pathogenic organisms growing, , , it will be in the statistical range where we are when we make canned foods.

The number one risk is oxidation which could be from the cork leaking or light exposure/ natural degradation. If leakage was severe you will have mold which you can see. Oxidation at low levels, especially combined with long lasting tannic notes enhances the complexity. It will not kill you.

Since this is grandfather’s I wood look for an event where you can share with the cousins, which is basically what I did with my mom’s fruit wines.
Time for good memories, this post has me tearing up.
 

Merrywine

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Well I’m no expert, but I have seen wine in stores that were “discovered” and are so old the bottles are not uniform in shape. At $200+ /bottle they better be drinkable and actually taste good, right?

From what I understand, the quality of the cork and how it was stored will be factors in how it is to drink. What a nice way to remember your Grandfather, if it tastes unpleasant after all this time doesn’t actually mean he was not a skillful winemaker. So yes open, sniff and sip, hopefully enjoy.
 

Rocky

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We recently tried some cherries that my father-in-law put up in moonshine in the 1970's. We moved from Pittsburgh to Dayton, OH to Rochester, NY and then to Columbus, OH and toted these cherries with us with each move. At Thanksgiving, we opened a jar and had them with our dessert. They were great and our grandsons got to try something made by their great-grandfather, who had passed away in 1987, long before they were born.

PS: The moonshine was still good too!
 

Mead Maker

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A few years ago I was preparing some entries for a wine competition and came across a French/American hybrid rosé I produced by the skin contact method and bottled in 1987. It had been stored upside down, and the neck was filled with lees.

I took it to the competition as something to share with the other winemakers while judging was going on, just to see what a 30 year old homemade wine tasted like.

I popped the cork upside down which flushed out the lees and left us with 3/4ths of the bottle.
Much to everyone’s surprise it not only looked and tasted good, but it was sparkling!

After the competition was over (I took home a blue ribbon) we took advantage of the three judges and got their expert opinions on this on lost bottle of wine. I expected they would detect a corked taste, or some sulfur from sitting on the lees for decades. They did not. They loved it.

I figured the tartrate crystals formed a crust over the lees and protected the wine from bad flavors. It was carbonated because it was stored under 5 cases of wine which kept the cork from popping out, and I never kill my wines with sulfates before bottling (I’m not going to kill any of my “babies”.)

This is the sort of experience that makes home winemaking so much fun.
 

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