“Dear Karen, What is the aging potential of sparkling wine? The reason I ask: I recently found/acquired an unopened bottle of Finger Lakes wine—a 1966 Taylor New York State Bicentennial Champagne. This 1966 vintage rested for 10 years prior to being release in 1976 for the Bicentennial. That amount of aging at a winery was unheard of at that time. Only 4,800 bottles were produced, each one numbered. Bottles numbered 0 and 00 were presented to the President and Vice President of the United States respectively. Bottles 1-50 were presented to the 50 states in the order they received statehood. The Taylor Wine Company kept bottle numbers 1776, 1976 and 1880 (the year Taylor was founded). The label is a replica of the winning design from a contest held in 1974 among New York college students. A Corning Community College student's needlepoint design utilized materials and techniques used during the Revolution. Aurora, a French hybrid, was used to make this wine. Could this wine still be drinkable? The cork is highly compressed and is coated with wax so that should have minimized air intake. But the fact remains, it is 57 years old. I actually have a few bottles which is why I am considering opening one, in the name of science and pleasure.” —Roger Collinge (Cheshire, CT)

Dear Roger,

In general, sparkling wines age well because of their high acidity. But as your wine is a special, very old bottle from New York State, I shared your email with winemaker and Master of Wine Nova Cadamatre who is Consulting Winemaker and Owner of Trestle Thirty One in New York and Fiadh Ruadh in Napa Valley. Nova has extensive experience with New York wines. Here’s her expert advice:

Wow. What a special bottle! I think there is zero harm in opening it to see how it tastes. Aurora should age a bit better than local native varieties like Niagara, Catawba, Elvira, and Delaware. Given the bright acid that is surely present it may be something quite interesting at this point. The CO2 may be gone or so intrenched in the wine that it may not be noticeable; however, since it does have a wax seal, and if it has been stored impeccably, there may be some bubbles there yet.
—Nova Cadamatre, MW

So there you have it, Roger!

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