The saying ‘aged like a good wine’ is around for a reason. This expression is regularly used to describe something that improves with ages and that develops better characteristics as time goes on. Many wines do benefit from aging, but it is a myth that all do. If you are an avid wine drinker or expert you may understand this process, but not all people do and it can be a tricky thing to properly understand. How do you know if wine needs to age? What happens to it when it does age that makes it taste that much better?
How wine aging works
Over time, aromas and flavours will change in a wine- even the colour can change. Much of determining if the age has improved the wine will inevitably come down to personal taste. however, the taste of a wine is greatly affected by the tannins.
Tannins can be found in the skins and seeds. They have a bitter taste which will make your mouth feel dry if there are elevated levels of tannin in the wine. It will be very noticeable and can make the wine taste unpleasant. Over time, acid and tannin will fall away, and so this is one benefit of aging. in saying this, acid and tannins also act as preservatives, decelerating colour-changing reactions. Another is that fruit aromas merge over time and become more complex, creating a better taste.
Differences between white and red
In terms of aging, white and red wines age very differently. For example, over time, red wines lose colour, whereas white wines can gain colour. White wines are generally lower in tannins, and are less suitable for aging, however there are some exceptions to this such a Riesling, Semillon and Chardonnay.
How do wine experts decide when a wine is ready?
You can’t just leave a wine age forever thinking it will be at its optimal taste and texture. It will reach a point where balance and harmony will be lost if left to age for too long. Therefore, it is an art to know when a wine is it at its best and to remove from the cellar to drink.
Wine experts determine this by considering how previous vintage wines have aged, or how wines from that particular region have aged over time to make an educated estimation. The rest is up to luck!
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