Aging wine is a pretty crucial part of wine-making, but many forget this part of the process. With that said, let’s get in-depth into the art of how to age wine.
What is Aging?
|Aging Stage||Duration||Developed Flavor Notes|
|Youthful||Few months to a year||· Fresh fruit flavors
· Crisp acidity
· Minimal tannins
|Adolescence||1 to 3 Years||· Increased complexity
· Pronounced Tannins Secondary flavors appears (vanilla or tobacco)
|Adulthood||3 to 20 years||· Subtler fruit flavors Tannins soften, and Tertiary flavors appears (leather or earthiness)|
|Decline||50 years or more||· Flavor and acidity decrease
Aging is a process of maturing wine, which starts after the fermentation procedure. Depending on the winemaker’s choice and the type of wine we are dealing with, this can take anywhere from months to several years. This way, it gains complexity and flavor, distinguishing its unique character.
With time, a series of chemical alterations occur within the wine, which alters multiple aspects. For example, tannins in red wines will become more velvety and mingle with other tastes as they age, while acidity can acquire a more rounded flavor profile.
As wine ages, its flavors and aromas become more intricate. Aged white wines often exhibit nutty or toasty notes, while aged reds can be earthy or spicy.
Types of Wines that Benefit from Aging
While most wines are intended to be enjoyed shortly after their vintage, a few specific types will improve in flavor and aroma with age. Here are some examples:
- Red Wines: Red wines are the ideal choice for cellaring, owing to the tannin content that endows them with structure and allows aging in style. Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah stand out as some of these age-worthy reds.
- Fortified Wines: Fortified wines such as Port are crafted to increase their shelf life and improve the flavor profile by augmenting the alcohol content. A distilled spirit like brandy is added during or after fermentation to increase sugar content and ABV. For this type of wine, aging is crucial for its flavor and aroma to be fully developed.
- Riesling: While aging is typically not suggested for white wines, Riesling can be an exception. It can become even more delicious when properly aged with complex flavors and aromas. It includes notes such as honey, petrol, and dried apricots, enhancing its sweetness.
When it’s Worth it to Age Wine
Pondering whether to age your wine? Ultimately, the aging process is based on personal preference. That said, it can be beneficial in these scenarios:
- The Wine is High Quality: Fine wines are the perfect candidates for aging, as they will often benefit in flavor. On the other hand, cheaper varieties typically lack a complex flavor profile.
- The Wine can be Stored Correctly: It is vital to keep wine properly for it to age gracefully. The ideal conditions should be dark with steady temperature and humidity. Any deviation can cause the wine to develop off-flavors due to bacterial contamination. Keep your collection safe by safeguarding it from improper storage!
- You Have the Patience: If you don’t have the patience to wait or find a suitable place to store your wine, aging may not be beneficial as this process can take many years and even decades.
How to Age Wine?
To properly age your wine, you need an ideal storage environment and a lot of patience. Here are some guidelines to help you on the journey:
Choose the Right Wine
When it comes to cellaring, not all wines are created equal. The aging potential of a particular bottle depends upon the grape variety and wine-making techniques used, as well as storage conditions.
Generally speaking, those with robust flavors, high tannins, and acidity – such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, or Barolo reds – tend to develop magnificently when aged properly. White wine fans needn’t fret either; Riesling and Chardonnay varietals can benefit greatly from a few years of maturing in the bottle.
Store the Wine Properly
Proper storage is essential for aging wine. Wine must be stored horizontally in a cool, dark place with a consistent temperature between 55-60°F (13-15°C) and a humidity level between 60-70%. Exposure to light and temperature fluctuations can spoil the wine and ruin the aging process.
Choose the right bottle: Wine bottles should be made of high-quality glass and have a tight seal to prevent oxidation. Screw caps or synthetic corks are also good alternatives to natural cork, which can sometimes allow air to seep into the bottle.
Patience is essential when maturing wine as it can take considerable time to achieve its peak flavor. Nonetheless, check on the bottles occasionally while they age and look out for any signs of spoilage. Only then will your patience be rewarded with impeccably aged wines!
Decant Before Serving
To enhance the flavor and aroma of any aged wine, it is wise to decant it before serving. This process can help to aerate the liquid and remove any traces of sediment that may have formed in its bottle over time. Decanting will bring out all that this special vintage has to offer!
When to Drink Aged Wine
Selecting when a bottle of wine will be most enjoyable can seem daunting, as it depends on many elements, such as the grape variety and vintage. Generally speaking, wines should usually be consumed within a few years of their year of production; nevertheless, certain kinds may become far more delicious over age. To make life simpler for you, here’s a helpful guide:
- White Wines: While numerous white wines are ideally sipped within a year or three of their vintage, certain noteworthy varieties such as Chardonnay and Riesling can continue to be savored for many years.
- Red Wines: Red wines are more intricate, structured, and age-worthy than their white counterparts. Most reds should ideally be consumed within the 3-10 year window of their vintage, while finer vintages like Barolo and Bordeaux can mature for several decades!
- Fortified Wines: With their elevated alcohol content, fortified wines like Port and Sherry have an impressive ability to age for decades – some even surpassing the century mark.
Different Ways of Storing Wine: Bottle vs. Barrels
Bottles and barrels are two common ways of storing wine; each method has advantages and disadvantages.
If you’re looking for the longest-lasting preservation of your favorite wines, bottle storage is the way to go. Bottles come in all sizes, so they’re easy to keep in cellars or coolers no matter where you store them.
And if that wasn’t enough variety already, bottles also come crafted with different materials and stylish shapes! However, they offer minimal effect in the aroma and flavors than oak barrels.
Barrel storage is an excellent solution for wine-making, as the oak barrels provide flavor and aroma to the maturing beverage. The porous nature of wood helps oxygenate the liquid, allowing it to breathe and creating complex flavors and aromas. When done properly, barrel storage can help develop a fully mature product with controlled exposure to oxygen over time.
While barrel storage certainly has its advantages, such as being expensive and taking up quite a bit of room. Additionally, it can be difficult to maintain and keep clean. Moreover, barrels aren’t the best choice for long-term wine aging as leakage or spoilage may occur if not properly managed.
The Effects of Aging on Wine Flavors
Aging can significantly impact the flavor, aroma, and texture of the wine. Here are some of the effects of aging on wine:
- Softening of Tannins: Tannins are organic particles present in grape skins, stems, and seeds. In red wines, tannins can bring about a hint of bitterness or astringency to the wine; however, with age, they become smoother, blending into the other flavors of the beverage.
- Development of Complex Flavors and Aromas: Aging wine can be a transformative process, unveiling new subtle nuances and complexity. White wines often transition to nutty and toasty notes, while reds take on earthy spiciness. With time comes a greater depth of flavor!
- Oxidation: When aged correctly, oxygen can help a bottle of wine reach its peak flavor by enabling it to mature and develop rich complexities. However, too much oxygen causes spoilage due to oxidation. Additionally, as wines age, they often become fuller-bodied with smoother textures.
- Changes in Color: As red wines mature, their intense colors fade, while whites can take on darker hues.
Aging Wine Tips
- Stay Away from Light: Light is a foe to any wine that you wish to age. Therefore, ensure the storage area for your bottles of vino is in complete darkness and away from all artificial or natural light sources.
- Learn the Right Alignment: When storing your wine correctly, lay the bottles on their side to maintain the cork wet and prevent air from permeating. This precaution will protect against oxidation and spoilage of your favorite vintage.
- Don’t Age for Too Long: The aging process of fine wines requires both time and persistence. Some libations may take years or even decades to reach their maximum potential, so stay patient! Warmer your taste buds for the prize; don’t succumb to the temptation of opening it before it’s ready.
With this article, we conclude the in-depth inspection of how to age the wine. We hope this article gives you all the knowledge you want to know about this important wine-making process.