Wine is a delicious drink which can be enjoyed on its own or paired with the right food to make it taste even better. Delightful as it is, wine has a particular quality which sets it apart from most of the other food and drinks out there – and that it is aged in order to potentially improve its quality.
Though wine is not at all immune to deteriorating and spoiling, it contains acids, sugars, tannins and other phenolic compounds which change its smell, colour, texture, and taste as years go by.
The unique ability of the wine to mature is subject to different factors such as the variety of grape or fruit used in the wine making process, the winemaking style used and even the region where the wine has been made. The bottling procedure, the condition of the wine in the bottle as well as the bottle itself and the cork used to cover it all play a role in the aging of wine.
But does aging wine make it better and tastier? Read on and learn all about the aging of wines and other interesting information.
The Process of Aging Wines
There are many things to consider when aging wine as well as correct ways to do so. In order for you to successfully age wine, you need to know a few things first. Important guidelines and information which we have compiled for your convenience. Continue on reading to learn the basics of the aging process of wine.
1. Factors to Consider in the Aging Process of Wine
- To be able to age, your wine must have a reasonably high level of tannin.
- Aside from tannin, your wine should also have a good amount of acidity to keep it tasting fresh and delicious.
- Your wine must also have a good amount of fruit and fruit taste so as it ages the flavour will become more enhanced.
- If your wine has tannin, acidity and fruit flavour, it will definitely age well.
2. How Do You Age Wine?
- Make sure your wine has a good amount of the factors mentioned above as well as esters. Esters add to the wine’s aroma as it ages. Find out what type of yeast was used during the fermentation process of your wine as that would determine the kind of ester your wine will have.
- Also make sure to keep your wine away from sunlight and high temperatures. That is the reason why most people age their wine in win cellars – sunlight doesn’t reach it and the temperatures don’t go higher than 55 – 65˚F.
- Humidity is also key in aging wine well, it should be close to 70%.
- When aging, the wine bottles have to be stored horizontally and should be flipped over regularly to keep the cork damp.
- It’s also a good idea to isolate your wine. As you know, wine “breathes” so keeping it with food or drink with a pungent aroma may mess with how it smells and tastes when you’re ready to drink it.
- Know how long you can store your wine. You can find this out by asking the wine makers so you don’t end up aging your wine too long or too short.
- Finally, it takes a lot of patience to age wine correctly. Time is the most important factor in the process of aging wine.
Traits of Wines that Age
Not all wines would hold up well with age. There are specific wines which would improve as the months and years go by and that depends on the different traits that they posses. Knowing these traits would help you out in determining which of your wines you can allow to age and which of your wines you should consume at the soonest.
Traits of Red Wines
- The acidity level of red wine which would age well must be moderate to high. A red wine with a tart, acidic taste will be good enough to age.
- The amount of tannin for red wines should also be moderate to high. It should have a subtle bitter taste which won’t overpower the other flavours of your wine, especially the taste of fruit.
- Volatile acidity, which is another component found in red wines, should be very low as it may cause your wine to deteriorate at a quicker pace, making it unfit for aging.
- The alcohol level of the red wine you plan to age must only be moderate so that whatever oxidation that happens during the aging process doesn’t add to the alcohol level, which will speed up the deterioration of its quality.
Traits of White Wines
- For white wines, acidity levels have to be high as this is one of the most important components of superb tasting white wines.
- Alcohol levels should be low or moderate only as oxidation happens more rapidly with white wines. It would then be best to age white wines with these alcohol levels as higher alcohol content would make your white wine oxidize even faster.
- A subtle amount of phenolic bitterness – which is the bitter, succinct note present in some white wines – is good to have for white wines which you plan to age.
Aside from all these traits, the residual sugar found in red and white wines should also be considered. It is found out that sweeter wines tend to age better and more efficiently.
Is Older Wine Really Better?
The short answer is – not really. Aging wine needs a lot of consideration and there are some wines which would actually deteriorate or spoil if kept for too long. Actually, most wines are meant to be consumed and enjoyed right away.
Properly aging wine requires a lot of thought and know-how as you’ve read above. The factors and traits which should be taken into consideration are quite numerous and you’d have to keep all of them in mind.
At the end of the day, you won’t even be sure if the wine you aged would end up tasting better. In fact, most wines do not get better with age – it’s a common misconception.
Conclusion – All In Good Time
So now that you’re better informed, you can either go ahead and age your wine to test if it really improves over time or do what most people do and pop open your wine as soon as you get home.
Wine is one of the luxuries of life, meant to be enjoyed during celebrations or paired with food options which will give you an elevated dining experience. Aged or not, wine is something you can buy and share with your loved ones to give a more elegant feel to your mealtimes.