"Should I age my wine?"

To be honest, there are few red wines on the market today that improve with further aging. Today, most red wines are produced to be consumed by the time they hit the shelves, just like their white wine companions.

As a matter of fact, very few wines of any variety possess the potential to improve with further aging. According to Jancis Robinson, a Master of Wine, only the top 10% of all red wines and top 5% of all white wines have this ability! Plus, only 1% of all wines can improve beyond a decade of aging.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of wines on the market today begin losing vibrancy in color and aromatic bouquet between 6 - 24 months in the bottle, depending on the wine varietal being stored.

Such is modern life - fast, fast, fast! Even in the wine world!

This is a trend blazed by the New World wine world and it follows in the general footsteps of globalization as a whole.

The rule of thumb is simple, though: the lower a wine's pH level, the higher the capacity for improving with age. Plus, higher phenolic density in a wine, which usually distinguishes reds from whites, will also improve chances for successful aging.

Here's a selection of wine varietals worth aging according to Jancis Robinson:

Keep in mind that vintage, wine region and wine making style, plus the conditions of aging wines, all are variables that cannot be taken into account here.

Good aging potential:

  • Chardonnay (2–6 yrs)
  • Riesling (2–30 yrs)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (4–20 yrs)
  • Merlot (2–10 yrs)
  • Nebbiolo (4–20 yrs)
  • Pinot noir (2–8 yrs)
  • Sangiovese (2–8 yrs)
  • Syrah (4–16 yrs)
  • Zinfandel (2–6 yrs)
  • Spanish Tempranillo (2–8 yrs)
  • Greek Xynomavro (4–10 yrs)
  • Vintage Ports (20–50yrs)

So if you're ever in doubt - it's better to drink a wine too young, than too old!

Also remember that many wines you pick up at the store traveled a long way to get there, and endured long transit times, temperature spikes, and the usual, unavoidable commotion of cargo travel.

While it's a nice poetic gesture to wait in relish for a wine to age to its peak perfection, if you're buying wines under the $20-30 mark, it's probably a waste of your time. And could even hurt the wines.

Another rule of thumb is this: most age-worthy reds are Estate grown, so try to find smaller production, Old world vineyards to invest in if you plan to age wine.

If you buy a wine that's worth aging - you'll probably know it beforehand, so make sure to come back and share your great wine finds with the rest of us! :-)

 (that's me) is the creator & catalyst behind this website, and answers wine questions through research, ongoing conversation with Sergio, and personal experience living and working at Hopewell Valley Vineyards. 

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› Should I age my wine?

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