I was speaking with a friend last night about wine and were talking about buying certain vintages and laying them down for special occasions. Many people do this for their wedding year or for the birth of their children. Then, in a special anniversary or birthday, they open the bottles to celebrate that year. My friend said she would reach out to me for advice when the time comes.
It brings up a great topic that I hear a lot. Which wines are best to lay down and age? How can someone tell? Sometimes it is an educated guess on the history of that specific region, estate or varietal. Sometimes, it has a lot to do with the care that is taken in properly storing the wines as well. Read on to know what to look for when you are choosing age-worthy wines.
White wine gets darker as it ages. Once it “gets over the hill” or in wine terms…oxidized, it turns a yellowish-brown color that does not evoke good feelings to drink it. Many age worthy white wines start out very light, almost clear.
Red wines are the opposite of white wine in that they get lighter as they age. They too will turn a reddish-brown color once they have oxidized. It will look more like a tawny port or brown spirit than a red wine. Look for a red wine that has some color density and vibrancy.
Wines with high acidity tend to last longer. Once the acidity fades, the wine tends to go flat. A higher acidity means a lower pH level. Lower pH levels have been shown to protect wines from chemical changes like oxidation. This is true for both red and white wines.
This is especially true for white wines. Higher sweetness levels help preserve wines. This is why some of the more age-worthy white wines are high quality Rieslings and then dessert wines like Sauternes and Tokaji. An example of this in red wines would be Amarone from Italy. They can be very age-worthy.
The red wines that tend to age well, usually have higher tannins. They preserve the wines freshness and act as antioxidants. Wines with high tannins can taste bitter and astringent when they are young, so you will want to lay them down for several years to mellow out. Examples of this can be some red Bordeaux wines and certain Barolos or Brunello’s from Italy.
This is true for both white and red wines, complexity is key. If a wine does not start out complex, it will not have a chance to be complex with age. This is important when drinking an aged wine, you want it to be complex when you decide to enjoy it years later. That is part of the fun!
If you can, buy at least a few bottles of a wine that you would like to age. It is worth trying a bottle every now and then to see how it is evolving. Wine can ebb and flow over the years so guessing when you open it, can be just that…a guess.
Also, properly storing the wine is crucial. You want to make sure it stays at a consistent cellar temperature of 55 to 65 degrees. Fluctuating temperatures will speed up the aging process. Also, many of these wines will have natural corks so you will want to age them laying on their sides. This will keep the cork from drying out and letting air in…which will oxidize the wine.
Please always reach out to us at Wine Curations to assist in curating your wine collection.