News center
Excellent quality at unbeatable pricing

What should a bottle of old Napa Cabernet taste like?

Jul 17, 2023

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

A few years ago, I tried a 15-year-old Napa Cabernet. The wine tasted weak and fruity, sort of like a raspberry Fruit Roll-Up. The tasting room guy said the wine was fine, but I thought it was way past its prime. It certainly wouldn’t have held up to a steak. Any thoughts?

—Thomas, Sequim, Wash.

Dear Thomas,

I would expect a Napa Cabernet upwards of 10 years old to start showing its age. How much so would depend on the vintage and the style of wine. But a wine that old tasting elegant and showing dried fruit flavors makes sense to me. As wines age, their bright, fresh fruit flavors tend to fade, and earthy notes can start to emerge.

Would an older bottle go with a steak as well as a young, robust example? Honestly, it depends on the steak—and on your palate (aged wines aren’t to everyone’s liking, and that’s OK!). A grilled rib-eye might be better with a bottle that’s youthful and hearty. A tender filet mignon with a mushroom sauce might pair better with your Fruit Roll-Up of a wine.

—Dr. Vinny