Over time you will notice that changes will take place with wine. Some wines will improve with age, but most wines do not and were intended to be enjoyed when fresh and young. It is perhaps confusing for the general public, with some wines getting better with age and others becoming less drinkable. In this article, we will try to explain the factors involved so that when you buy wine online you will know which wines are best to lay down.
How do you know when the wine will be best to drink?
The best way of deciding how well a particular wine will age is to consider how previous vintages of the same style or region have aged in the past. The expert will also consider what the weather conditions were for each vintage. They will assess the effect of the weather on Tannins and fruit development. Through this kind of detective work, the expert can make a pretty good guess at how well a wine will age.
What happens when wine ages?
- Red wine will lose colour as it ages, and white wine will gain colour.
- The Bouquet becomes more complex as secondary aromas to do with aging, mingle with the original fruit characteristics.
- Acid and Tannin act as preservatives.
Wine's natural characteristics
When wines are young, we taste the fruit flavor of the wine. Each wine has its own natural taste, for example:
- Sauvignon Blanc - Grassy flavor
- Merlot - Plum
- Viognier - Apricot
- Riesling - Citrus
As wine ages, then the so-called secondary flavors creep in from the fermentation process. These may include the vanilla flavor contained in oak or buttery hints from the malolactic fermentation.
Why are tannins and acidity so important?
Both tannins and acid will work as a preservative, which slows down the process of oxidation. These slow down the introduction of new flavors and retain the original flavors longer.
Because white wines typically have lower tannins levels, they do not generally age as red wines. There are some exceptions to this rule, and very acidic grapes may age even longer than red wines. Examples of grapes in this category would include:
- Garganega (Soave)
- Carricante (Etna Bianco)
Another example would be Chardonnay (Veneto), grown in cooler than average temperatures, which imbues the grapes with high acidity.
What happens with age?
Most wines are made for immediate consumption. However, some wine lovers like to store bottles for a few years to enjoy the altered flavors. So, what happens when a wine ages? As explained earlier, the flavors of the wines will change and evolve. Acids and alcohols will provoke reactions that result in differences in both flavor and texture with the wines. The wine develops new compounds with their own unique properties. Some existing compounds may devolve and break up to form new compounds. The changes in the texture vary according to the style of wine.
We can actually see changes in the composition of wine by looking at the colour. Red wines will gradually move from Ruby through brick to a tanned leather colour. White wines will move from a place lemon/green colour through gold to amber. This is a simple way of assessing the level of change.
When you look at a red wine in the bottle held against a white background, young wine will appear opaque. A more mature red wine will often show a lighter or orange colour on the edges of the liquid. This is called "Rim" and is one way you can gauge the age of red wine.
Red Italian Wines that Age Well
Nebbiolo Grape Variety (Barolo, Barbaresco)
Sangiovese Grape Variety (Chianti, Brunello, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano)
Aglianico Grape Variety
White Italian Wines that Age Well