Does wine improve with age?

Posted by Jay Lee and edited by Peter Koff MW on 24th Jun 2018


Well, it depends!

Firstly, what is meant by aged? There are many wines that will age with benefit over a period of 4 to 6 years but what about 15+ years? We will call the latter extended aging. Most of us think the older the wine the better, right? No, that’s not necessarily true. In fact, most wines were NOT made for extended ageing and will deteriorate with long aging.

The capacity to age depends on many factors, one of the most important being the intent of the winemaker in adapting the winemaking processes used to facilitate extended aging. Wine ages well only when the contents of the bottle are outstanding for the purpose AND the winemaker has deliberately chosen to make an age-worthy wine.

Aging potential depends on many factors in addition to the desire of the winemaker; origin of the grapes, grape quality, vineyard yields, grape type, production methods, containers such as oak barrels used and an absolutely vital factor; excellent storage both in the winery and after the sale. Good storage conditions have the following parameters; cool – say 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, humidity from 35% to 45%, dark and still – no vibration.

How can you tell if the aged wine in your hand is likely to be good?

Outside of reading winemaker notes or reading articles written by critics, price may be a pointer, though not always a reliable one. Generally, if you pay over $40 for a bottle of wine, you may consider ageing it. When in doubt drink the wine! Why do we say this? If you open a bottle of wine before its time, you will have some small regrets about what the wine may have become BUT you will still derive most of the potential enjoyment from it. If you age a wine for a longer period than its age worthiness, you reduce its drinking value to zero or close to it as overaged wines, even if they are in good condition, are usually dried out and very disappointing.

This is a very topical discussion and we will return to it in future articles.

Want a 15+ year old wine, already aged to perfection?

Click on the bottle below


This is an excellent bottle of aged Tuscan wine, Selected by Peter Koff MW


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