What Happens to Wine as It Ages: Does It Really Get Better?
There are many myths about wine aging and long-term storage, and they can be misleading for wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. What happens to wine as it ages? What is wine aging, anyway? Let’s find out.
Explore what happens to wine as it ages and how to do it properly. Well-aged wine can be a life-changing experience, but you’ll soon discover it’s rarer than you think.
Can All Wine Age?
There’s a difference between wine having a long shelf life and wine evolving, even more so if we want the wine to improve. At least 95% of all wine is meant to be poured relatively young. Most white wines are best enjoyed during their first three years, and red wines can still be in good shape after five.
Only the rarest wines evolve after the five-year mark, and they’re often exclusive labels, amongst the most coveted wines on earth. Aging red wine is more common, but white wine aging is also possible. The name of the game? Concentration.
What Wine Can Age?
Wine can evolve, provided it has high amounts of tannins, alcohol, residual sugar, and/or pigments. In other words, the more concentrated, the longer it will take for the wine to reach its peak and unavoidable decline. All wines turn into vinegar eventually, but some wines can encounter exciting changes, sometimes for decades!
Achieving concentration in wine, though, is no easy feat. After all, winemakers must achieve such high concentrations in the grapes. It’s no surprise that the wine that can age comes from the most prestigious and sunny vineyards, whether planted with red or white varietals.
Barrel vs. Bottle
There’s a difference between aging wine in barrel and bottle. Most red wines spend at least a few months in oak barrels, where they gain textural and aromatic complexity. Some wines spend a few years in barrel, well protected in dim-lit cellars. White wine can also age in oak, and it’s more common in wines made with full-bodied white grapes like Chardonnay.
Unlike stainless-steel vats, oak barrels change their content, whether wine, rum, or whiskey. The wood adds oaky vanilla and brown spice scents to wine, especially if the barrel is brand new.
Aging wine in the bottle is entirely distinct, as the container does not alter it. Instead, the wine’s complex chemical composition experiences physical and chemical changes. The alcohol and acid combine and recombine; some of the tannins and pigments precipitate, and slowly but surely, the wine oxidizes for the oxygen that finds its way into the bottle through the porous cork.
How to Serve Aged Wine? Does it Taste Different?
Aged wine differs from a bottle of young wine. Aged red wine loses its fruit-forward personality but gains aromatic complexity. Scents reminiscent of leather, damp earth, mushrooms, toasted nuts, and dried fruit replace fresh fruit aromas.
White wine gains complexity as it ages as well, so expect flowers, tea, marzipan, and saffron on the nose rather than fresh fruit. Of course, every bottle of wine is special.
Aged wines have more complex bouquets, which are best enjoyed on the warm side in large wine glasses. And they’re meant to be sipped slowly. Aged bottles can profoundly change the way you see fine wine!
Enjoy Your Wine Collection with the Right Stemware
Aged wine is undoubtedly an exciting way of taking your wine-tasting skills to the next level while enjoying yourself. To experience wine at its fullest, ensure you taste and drink wine from handmade crystal glasses designed to enhance the experience.
Shop stemware that complements your fine wine experience and ensures those well-aged wine bottles are appreciated as they’re meant to be enjoyed by their creators. Wine and wine glasses are two sides of the same coin, so lie down a few bottles for future enjoyment and call some friends over for a memorable wine dinner!Shop Now