Mature vintages: Service tips and pairings

Mature vintages serving and pairing tips

Young fine wines can seduce you with their generous fruit flavours and power. But these same wines after a more years in the cellar can enchant you with their complex aromas and the velvetiness of their tannins. And the suitable pairings aren’t the same either. Here are a few titbits of advice for when you come to serve and pair older wines.

Mature wines are a bit of a speciality at iDealwine which regularly proposes mature vintages both in the auction and fixed-price sections of the website. But these wines that are 10 or more years old require special treatment, both in terms of the dishes that accompany them and the way in which you serve them.

How to serve mature vintages

Everything depends on the age of the wine. All being well, a bottle that is 10 or 15 years old shouldn’t require any particular attention. However, when the wines are more than 20 or 25 years old, you need to be more attentive and gentle-handed:

– Start by handling the bottle very carefully to avoid disturbing any possible deposits.

– Be careful with the cork and use the corkscrew very gently to avoid dropping small bits of cork into the wine. You can also use a two-pronged cork extractor which is much easier for mature vintages.

– Potentially decant the wine (do this very slowly) into a carafe just before serving if there seems to be a lot of deposits.

– If you choose not to decant the wine, move the bottle as little possible before serving it. Pour a small amount into a glass so that the level of wine in the bottle is at its shoulders and it can breathe gently. If you haven’t already savoured this small glass by the time you come to serve the wine, you can add it back to the bottle.

– The service temperature can be a degree higher than the temperature you’d serve the same wine in a young vintage because wine tends to lose a little alcohol as it ages. 18°C is good for most Bordeaux, Burgundy and northern Rhône wines and 17°C for southern Rhône wines. For white wines, stay between 13°C and 14°C as being too cold can annihilate the complexity of their aromas.

Pairing ideas for mature vintages

When a wine has been aged for a long time, it develops at certain delicateness and loses its initial fruitiness. The food pairings then should be adapted to this sensation of delicateness which calls for “more toned down” dishes.

  • For Bordeaux – We could suggest all roasted red meats as well as red meats in a light sauce, veal in a mushroom sauce, slow-cooked lamb, game birds, and all dishes containing truffles.
  • For Burgundy – Here, we would go for the mostly same dishes: roasted red meats, veal in a mushroom sauce, and game birds as well as roasted poultry (guinea fowl with cabbage, for example) and offal (veal liver, in particular).
  • For the Rhône Valley – We would stay with red and white meat as well as poultry and when looking at game options, we would test something more powerful like wild boar and venison. All dishes with a wine sauce would also work.
  • And finally, for white wines which are also worthy of being aged for a long time (those from Burgundy and the Rhône, for example) – Here, it would be good to opt for rich and flavourful dishes with white meats as the base or poultry in a cream sauce (mushrooms welcome) as well as refined seafood such as lobster. A simple roasted fish risks seeming a little weak for the aromatic complexity that aged fine white wines can obtained.

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