Red Wine Aging
SOME RED WINES AGE BETTER THAN OTHERS. THERE ARE SEVERAL REASONS FOR THIS, BUT THE GRAPE VARIETY IS A DETERMINING FACTOR.
The natural acidity and tannin traits of a wine create a kind of path that allows it to evolve (and even improve) over time. This is why some varietal wines taste better when they are a little older than others, and vice versa.
For example, let's take a popular grape variety like Cabernet Sauvignon : when you taste samples from casks at a preparatory evening, your palate is filled with tannins that dry out the mouth. These wines can be so astringent that your teeth stick to the inside of your lips!
Over time, however, this astringent tannin dissipates through a series of chemical interactions (which we don't yet fully understand) and the wine tastes sweeter. And that, my friends, is the reason why wine in the cellar is so great !
SOME RED WINES TASTE BETTER OLDER
These red wines with high acidity and high tannins are perfect to keep for a few years. If you are afraid of a big investment, try experimenting and aging a few valuable wines for only one year. The results may surprise you.
Here is a short list of red wines that are known to age well:
- Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet is very variable because there is a wide range of quality levels and regions. Look for wines with deep color, moderately low pH (e.g., higher acidity), balanced alcohol levels and clearly visible tannins.
- Merlot You wouldn't think so, but Merlot ages just as well as Cabernet Sauvignon. Wines become sweeter and often smoother (think tobacco) with age. Bordeaux right bank is a great place to start with the aging Merlot.
- Mourvèdre has extremely high tannin and color. In Provence, in the Bandol region of Bandol, this grape variety generally does not have an exceptional taste before at least 10 years of aging. Expect rich, peppery and rustic flavors.
- Tempranillo This is one of the best varieties for long term aging. The Rioja-nese know this and have a classification system based on aging.
- Sangiovese This is another first-rate variety to age long term, because the Sangiovese has such a spicy acidity. Over time, this wine softens and produces notes of sweet figs. Discover Brunello di Montalcino for a cellar-worthy example.
- Nebbiolo The Barolo and Barbaresco regions are burned into the brains of collectors as places to look for a wine worthy of the name. Why? Nebbiolo produces wines with incredibly high tannins that soften and seem to soften over time.
- Xinomavro A rising collector's option from Greece, Xinomavro is reminiscent of Nebbiolo, with the best examples of a great age offering exceptionally high tannins.
- Aglianico The old way of making Aglianico made it almost undrinkable until it aged for at least a decade. These wines reveal extremely tasty and convincing flavours of cured meats and tobacco.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE
Of course, as with all things, there are exceptions to the rule. The best thing you can do to improve your tasting experience is to train your palate in wine tasting.
Acidity and tannins are very important for the ability to age. Finally, one last consideration to take into account: balance!