A wine collector’s guide to aging wine.
How to age wine, which wines improve with age, and how to age wine at home are a few of the many questions wine collectors ask about aging wine. Below are some helpful insights on the process of aging wine, which wines should be consumed immediately vs. aged or cellared, as well as an overall wine collector’s guide to aging wine.
What does “aging wine” mean?
Aging wine means to cellar or store a wine bottle for a certain amount of time to improve the quality of the wine itself. While wine is a perishable item and has the capability of deteriorating, chemical reactions involving a wine’s sugars, acids and tannins can alter the aroma, color, and overall taste of the wine in a way that may be more attractive to the wine drinker.
The ability of a wine to age is influenced by factors such as grape variety, vintage, growing and harvesting practices, wine region and the individual winemaking style.
What helps wine age?
The factors that allow a wine to age are quite complex, but here are a couple of rules of thumb:
- The wine must have a fairly high level of tannin to age at all.
- Tannin is no good if the wine has no acidity to keep it fresh tasting.
- Acidity and tannin are helpful, but it is fruit that makes wine taste good, and if there is not enough fruit in the wine, then when it ages it will taste like nothing.
- The fuller a wine in all 3 of these components, the longer it will age.
Storing wine at 55F facilitates aging. Wine ages more rapidly at 70F and warmer, but the resulting product is less complex, which is not ideal for aging. Keep your wines at a level 55F, which can be facilitated by a wine room climate control system, will allow wine to age slowly and perfectly.
Should all wines be aged?
There is a widespread misconception that wine always improves with age, or that wine improves with extended aging, or that aging potential is an indicator of good wine. Most wine collectors really have no idea if the wine they have should be aged or not, and if so, for how long. Many people think that reds should be aged while whites don’t, or that aging means many years of storage versus perhaps a year at most. But here is an interesting fact: only 1% of all the wine produced in the world is meant to be aged. That doesn’t mean you can’t store wine for a longer period of time. It simply means that extended storage won’t necessarily improve the quality of the wine substantially.
Most whites are made for immediate consumption, and most reds should be consumed within 5 years of being released. More specifically, everyday white wines should be consumed within one to three years of release. Everyday red wines should be consumed in the first 1 to 3 years. Mid-priced red wines can be kept 3-5 years after release. Higher quality reds can last 5-8 years.
Keeping track of it all.
Serious wine collectors are always interested in how to keep a wine collection safe. Wine rooms can be designed with security systems to keep wine collections safe and protect from theft. The technology designed specifically for wine cellars is impressive, with many options to fit your needs. Also, because they’re designed specifically for wine storage, wine rooms will protect the quality of the wine bottles by protecting them from heat, humidity or sunlight. Many custom wine rooms are built with climate control options that allow you to store your wines at an ideal temperature.
While most homeowners build wine rooms for the beauty and luxury of having a collection in their home, there are many reasons why wine rooms are a smart upgrade for homeowners. If you’re looking to have a custom wine room built in your home, be sure to reach out to a custom wine room professional to have one designed best suited for your home.
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