Here are the top 4 Tips for Finding Wines that influence whether a wine ages well: acidity, alcohol, concentrated fruit and tannins. But what about other factors? Such as barrel aging, bottle aging, and how much an age-worthy wine should cost?
Barrel Age vs. Bottle Age:
New oak imparts a “seasoning” to the wine, giving it spicy notes with the added oomph of oak induced tannins. Barrel aging also allows wine a chance to breathe with the porous nature of the wood exposing the wine to optimal levels of oxygen, giving life to the wine in barrel. Bottle aging allows a wine to settle down and begin to integrate the wine’s components post-blend. With time, wines with higher tannins will mellow in the bottle, the fruit will evolve and new flavor and aromatic profiles will emerge.
Rule of Thumb for Buying a Wine to Age:
In very general, wines under the $30ish mark are typically not candidates for aging well. Meaning they won’t get better with five or ten more years of sitting pretty in the bottle. The fruit quality, new oak inputs and key structural components just won’t be there. That said, which wines are built to be better in five years’ time? Reliable aging wonders from Alsace, or wines that have seen a decent dose of new oak like premium Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon are easy options for watching bottle evolution at the five year mark.
Need ten years? Opt for better Bordeaux, Barolo, and Brunello di Montalcino, super premium Cabernet Sauvignon from New World regions, Rhone Valley Syrah, and better Burgundies to see you through the next decade.
Modern Winemaking and Aging Access:
Many modern winemakers have used technology to their advantage. Harvesting grapes at optimum ripeness levels, using stainless steel tanks for fermentation with temperature controlled environments, sourcing specific vine clones and strains of yeast, monitoring every step of the winemaking process with the latest technology, while springing for better barrels and often lower yields, which all culminate to making many of the wine world’s traditional “agers” more approachable at younger ages. Instead of showing a wine’s ability to go 20 years in a bottle, regular consumers and collectors alike may well enjoy a wine in its relative youth at five or ten years instead of enduring to the twenty year mark. Savoring the bottle evolution in brighter hues rather the more subtle, restrained views that time will yield.
Want to age wine well? Then make the most of wine storage. Find out how to store wine for the long haul here. A wine’s aging potential is only as good as its storage conditions. Keep it stored cool, dark, still and sideways.
By Stacy Slinkard, AboutFood