The Right Age for the Right Wine

wineMany people have the impression that the older the wine, the better it is. This is far from true; some wines are best consumed young, and most wines do not fare very well beyond five years.

Vinepair makes a definitive stand on aging wine in Aging Wine: Why People Age Wine and When you Should Too when it says: “The industry loves to talk about aging and collecting wines because drinking a really old wine has a romantic allure. An old wine gives us a way to re-experience a year that was special in our memory, maybe the year of our birth or anniversary, or drink a wine that comes from a time we may never even have lived. On top of this, when a wine that was meant to be aged is drunk, the aging of the wine helps create flavors and textures we would never have experienced had the wine not undergone aging.”

When to Store and When to Drink

Vinepair gives this additional information: “… This being said, only 1% of all the wine produced in the world is meant to be aged. When you think about it, this is probably why drinking an aged wine is romanticized to such a great extent, because so few bottles in the world actually benefit from, and can handle, sitting around for such a long time.

“This also means that 99% of all wine we buy is meant to be drunk right now. This doesn’t mean that the wine expires—as long as you store it correctly—it just simply means you shouldn’t purposefully age it, because you won’t be gaining any benefit from waiting.”

As a rule, wines that cost less than 30 dollars a bottle are meant to be drank right away. Those that cost upwards of thirty dollars will probably keep well for about five years but not more than that.

Wine that Age Well

You may want to try aging a bottle or two of the wines that Eric Arnold writes about in Ten Wines that Age Gracefully. Quoting Shelly Lindgren, director of San Francisco’s A16 Restaurant, Arnold mentions Il Palazzone Brnello di Montalcino 2003 which is made of 100 percent sangiovese and Le Macchiole Paleo Rosso 2000 which is made from cabernet franc grape. Lindgren also recommends “the Castello Romitorio Romito del Romitorio 2004, which is a blend of sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon.”

Apart from these three wines, Tignanellois is a good candidate – partly because it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Caernet frac – both of which have the potential for aging well. In general, wines that have a lot of tannins can be aged. This includes Nebbiolo and Syrah. As a rule, white wines with greater acidity also age well.

Ed McMarthy writes about aging champagne in Champagne Worth Cellaring and says that even non vintage champagnes taste better if you wait a while before drinkiong it. “Most Champagnes are nonvintage and are the standard blend of three permitted grape varieties—Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Nonvintage Champagnes are also a blend of several vintages and several wines, often from diverse villages throughout the region. These are the least expensive Champagnes; typically they retail in the $20 to $45 price range.

“Even nonvintage Champagnes improve with two or three years of aging—especially those from certain producers. You can compare nonvintage Champagnes to good, homemade soups and stews—they invariably improve after all the ingredients in the blend marry.”

Vintage champagne, on the other hand, does age well. If properly cellared, a bottle of vintage champagne will still taste superb after decades and it will be a treat like no other.

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