In our ageability infographic, the bottle length provides a guide for judging a wine’s age worthiness. The longer the bottle, the longer the wine can age. The numbers on the label indicate the best age to enjoy the wine (Optimal). Anything before then (Immature) and the wine can often appear a little harsh. Anything after (Tired) and the wine is past its prime and will appear at best characterless or at worse, vinegar like.
The general assumption that all red wines can be aged the same is completely wrong. Red wine aging depends on the several factors:
- What type of wine is it?
Aging Cabernet Sauvignon, which is one of the longest lived wines around, is entirely different than aging Valdigue, a wine which is old and tired after just two years. Aging red wine depends first and foremost on the type of wine.
- How was the wine made?
The second most important characteristic is how the wine was made. It sounds a ridiculous but in order to age red wine, the wine had to be made to be aged. All Cabernet Sauvingons are not meant to be aged. Most of the mass produced versions are made with less tannins and acid to make them more enjoyable to the masses. Many wines even add chemicals to reduce the acid. Most wines purchased in grocery stores will not age and within several years are well past their prime. A wine must have a good tannic or acid structure and/or a higher alcohol level to benefit from aging.
- What is the ideal storing temperature?
To age red wine, it must be kept at a reasonably stable temperature. Aging wine at cellar temperature is best, usually 55F to 62F. If that is not available, at least find an area where the temperature is reasonably stable even if it is warmer. Warm temperatures push air into the bottle and cooler temperatures draw it out. If the bottle swings constantly between extremes, the cyclical in-rush of new air will oxidize the wine far sooner than if it was stored correctly.
To learn more about each varietal, visit our Varietals page and click through for serving temperature, origins, and more. Cheers from Winery-Sage.com!