Aging Gracefully

How long can I keep the wine before drinking it? How can I know when is the right time to open a bottle?

Most of us suppose that the longer we keep a wine, the better it will get. Well let put it this way, it is a misconception that we must age all bottles of wine. While some bottles will mature and become better over time, others will not and should be drunk immediately, or within a few years.

So, now the essential question will be, which bottle is well suitable for aging?

Nowadays, Most wines available in the market should be drunk as young as possible, whilst its fruit is still young and enjoyable (1 – 5 years form its release). Only 10% of the global wine production, wines with concentrated fruits, solid acidity and structured tannin are apt for aging.

In fact, two wines coming from the same region, made with the same grape variety; one ages considerably longer than the other. Why?

Small variances can make a whole impact in the wine produced; perhaps the soil or microclimate (small variations in the local weather due to terrain; we call “Terroir”) is just a bit different. Maybe the vines are older, or the winery may have processed the wines differently, even the size of the bottle matters (a half bottle ages faster than larger bottles.). All those “tiny” difference will result a variation in the quality of the wine.

While there are no specific rules to which wine age well and which do not, here are 2 indicators that will help you for a start:

~ The grape variety, certain wines made from robust and bold grapes, like a Cabernet Sauvignon, can age for longer (5 to 20 year) than those made from lighter-bodied grapes like Gamay (2 to 5 years).

~ The price is a good indicator of a wines complexity. Sure, there are some exceptions, but generally speaking,the more expensive the bottle the more complex the wine thus making it suitable for aging. Younger, less expensive wines are generally fruitier and should be enjoyed soon after purchasing.

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Eventually all wine will loose their peak at some point, so even the wines meant to be kept for many years should be drunk before its too late and don’t forget, how you store the wine will affect how long it lasts as well. Getting good advice about particular wine is the only good idea here.

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