The World of Wine – March 2010

The World of Wine

By Ceci Rodriguez

Wines and Age


“The older the better”, we used to say. However, most of the wines produced these days do not age. The majority of wines, by far, are designed to be enjoyed within a year or up to three years of production. But wine, as a special beverage, is unique in that some wines not only keep for decades, but also become more desirable with age. These few special wines undergo a magical transformation and develop remarkable appeal to our senses of sight, smell and taste. Therefore, it certainly pays off to age the right wines.

Certain wines, because they have sufficient acid and/or tannin, age well. The age, itself, is not a virtue, unless the wine improves with keeping. Wines which are likely to age the best will often be apparent, because tasted young, their components, acid and tannin, seem harsh and raw. For those that improve over time, numerous minute, chemical changes take place, rounding off the harsh edges. Producing a smoother texture, a richer spectrum of flavours and aromas, and more harmonious effects overall.

Effective aging depends on a few factors, the principal factors being the grape variety, and how it is grown. The vinification is also very important. Of course, when the wine is ready, it has to be stored in oak for some time. Aging wine could take months or years; it depends on how old we want the wine. After the oak, the wine is bottled, and it has to be in the winery for months or years before sale. All these factors affect the price, which can be an effective guide to finding wines for aging.

It is not easy to select the best wine to age, or to find those ready to drink. This is the reason why there are several specialized reference books. A key, as I mentioned before, is the grape variety. The red varieties that age successfully are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz, Tannat, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and to a lesser extent, Pinot Noir. The best white varieties for aging would be: Riesling, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Add to these, botrytised dessert wines and Vintage Port.

Sometimes in the label of these wines, we can read words like Oak, Reserva, Crianza, but we need to know where they come from and check the regulations of their origin.

But it does not matter which wine you choose for drinking, young or with age, both can give us one of the best human experiences, “tasting wine”!

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