The idea of wine improving with age is fairly well known. But the reality is that few of us take the time to actually age our wine. Even with the best of intentions to age wine, it’s easy to end up cracking open that bottle when a special occasion or particular meal comes around. But taking the time to age wine can be worthwhile in the long run.
When time is taken to age wine, the components of the wine will mellow out and bring a harmonious balance to the flavor. The tannins, present in red wine bring its bitter and astringent flavor. As wine ages, the tannins precipitates out of the wine, thus leaving a smoother and more mellow flavor. The acids as well will lose a bit of their bite and allow to fruits to come out more. Put more simply, age gives wine a more complex and balanced flavor.
Indeed not every wine should be aged, but there are a few simple guidelines to help you determine whether or not a particular wine is a good one to age. Wines that can be aged contain sulfates which allow the wine to age without turning into vinegar. Since white wines have lower tannis and sulfates than red wine, they are generally not meant to be aged. A bold red wine like a Cabernet is usually a good candidate. But it’s important to remember that eventually, all wines will turn to vinegar. The trick to aging wine is to age it enough to find the perfect balance in the flavor. In general, most California wines were meant to be consumed right away while a number of French wines are meant to be matured over several years. Any wine under $25 probably do not need to be aged. There are certainly many exceptions to these rules and your local wine shop can help you find a wine that is good to age.
In order for wine to age well, it must be stored properly. Cooler temperatures will slow down the aging process and allow the complex flavors in the wine to develop. The wine should be stored at a constant temperature of around 50-60 degrees F. Fluctuating temperatures will cause the wine and the cork to expand and contract and cause the wine to be oxidized. The wine should be stored on its side in order to keep the cork from drying out and should be stored in a dark place. If you don’t have a dedicated cellar in your home, you can always buy a wine cooler online or find one at a local wine shop. Check out our wine aging chart as a guideline for how long to age a wine.
Once you have a place to store your wine, visit your local wine shop and get some recommendations on a good aging wine. Once you’ve chosen a wine, pick up a case of it to age. Try one of the bottles right away and store the rest to age. After a couple of years, start opening them up and see how the flavors have changed. A new bottle of wine may be good, but a properly aged wine can be even better.