What makes a wine age-worthy? Can any wine age well if kept long enough? Discover why it’s important to know the difference, especially for investing and enjoying wines at their finest.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your average bottle of supermarket wine would age delightfully in your wine rack at home, either to be enjoyed at a later date or to increase in value as a potential investment?
Sadly, the reality is quite different.
Most wines do not improve with age; they diminish in quality quickly, especially if not stored properly.
Your average red wine will likely last around five years if stored well. The average white and rosé wines will last about two or three years, again, if stored well.
The age-worthiness of Champagne depends on the style and quality. A good vintage could last up to seven years, whereas a non-vintage could last as little as three years. If you happen to have a truly remarkable bottle, it could last up to ten years but may lose a few bubbles down the line.
What makes a wine age-worthy?
It’s common to think that the more money you spend on a bottle of wine, the better it will be and the longer it will last. While, in many cases, the former is somewhat accurate, it’s the characteristics of the wine which tell you whether it’s a good long term investment for either drinking or keeping for financial gain.
A wine that has been kept too long and beyond its ‘good point’ will have become oxidised and taken on a dull, washed-out colour and will smell somewhat vinegary and taste like an unpleasant sherry.
What makes red wines age-worthy?
The most important aspect of the colour of red wine to know if it’s going to age well is the vibrancy of the colour. A red wine showing signs of prematurely ageing or not ageing well is dull in colour, appears faded, and has a brown, yellow tint.
For wines to age well, you really want them to have a higher tannin content. The effect tannins have on wine helps stabilise their integrity and provide greater longevity, providing antioxidants helping perverse the freshness. Some of the best tasting aged wines start life with a higher tannin level, and the ageing process helps this soften over time, which is when an aged wine tastes divine.
Acidity matters just as much as the tannins in wine. Age worthy wines which have a higher acidity tend to age well. Learning about the background of wine can be a clear indicator, but tasting wine can also be a good indicator of whether it has good acidity and will age well.
What Makes White Wines Age Worthy?
The colour of white wines is still important, although slightly different, because it doesn’t contain the anthocyanin which gives red wines their pigment. While red wines tend to lighten as they oxidise and prematurely age, white wines darken and go a muddy yellowish colour as they diminish in quality. A white wine likely to age well will be bright and clear.
The same applies to white wines as it does with red wines you want to age. The higher the acidity, to begin with, the better for the potential end result.
White wines differ from red wines in that they can be much sweeter. The sugar within the wine can act as a natural preservative and increase the age-worthiness of white wines. Hence why some dessert wines can and have been aged for up to and over 50 years.
If you are going to age wine at home. We highly recommend having sufficient fine wine storage to help protect your wine from fluctuating temperatures, sunlight and too much movement.
Also worth noting; if the bottle has a traditional cork closure, store the wine on its side to help keep the wine against the cork and prevent it from drying out and letting air in because that is the death of a good wine.