Wine experts, as well as some novices, love to talk about aging and collecting old, rare or vintage wine. Many oenophiles, indeed, like to covet older wines, though true wine gurus know that older isn’t always better and that different years can vary greatly even between a single vineyard and make.
It is true though, that as a wine sits and ages, it develops a richer, smoother and more intense flavor profile and can deliver an exceptional texture and mouth feel.
In reality though only 1% of all of the wine produced is “supposed” to be aged. So…
Which Wines Age Well?
For starters, it doesn’t matter if it is a red or white wine, most wines sold in stores are not meant to be aged. These wines are meant to be enjoyed sooner rather than later. By sooner, we mean within five years… as opposed to, say, 20 years.
If you’re building your wine collection and want to be able to commensurate a special day say in 10-20 years, we recommend choosing higher end wines such as Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Barlo. Also, wines from the Muscadet and Lebanon region can also be aged well.
White V Red Wine: Tips on Aging
Fine white wines can be aged up to 10 years, while a fine red wine can be aged up to 20 years or more. If you are looking for wines that age longer than 20 years you need to turn your attention to ports, fortified wines, and fine champagnes.
Here are a few more things to note when choosing a wine that will stand the test of time.
Acidity. The higher the acidity of the wine, the longer the wine will last.
Tannin levels. Tannin levels are affected by the skins of the grapes, as well as from oak aging. The higher the tannin the better the wine will age over time.
Alcohol. The amount of alcohol in the wine is fairly crucial to the aging process, and varies with non-fortified versus fortified wine. For a non-fortified wine that ages well, choose one with an alcohol content of around 13.5%. Fortified wines should be around 17 to 20% alcohol to capture the essence of aging.
How much residual sugar is found in the wine also affects the aging process, but is often overlooked because people tend to focus on aging dry wines.
Wine Storage. To properly age your wine you are going to need to properly store it. Storing wine is not as simple as setting it on a shelf in the basement — you need to make sure it is stored at the proper temperature, with the correct amount of light/darkness and in the correct position.
Wine should never be stored upright, as that causes the cork to dry out. As the cork dries, the seal begins to loosen allowing oxygen to get into the bottle, which spoils the wine.
Bottles of wine should always be stored on their side in a wine refrigerator, as wine refrigerators are temperature controlled environments guaranteed to allow the best chances for that “a ha” moment years down the road.