The Benefits of Aging Wine

August 16, 2018 by French Corner Cellars
The wine enthusiast can be a curious creature to casual wine drinkers. In an age where most wines in North America are meant to be consumed in 1-4yrs, the idea of keeping a wine for a decade (or several), seems odd and unnecessary to people who regularly consume a plump, high-production wine with residual sugar, low tannins, and mild acidity.

But for those who dare to step out of their comfort zone and delve into the ‘how’s’ and ‘whys’ of the wine world, researching and seeking out wines that can rest in a cellar for extended periods of time becomes a hobby, or more often than not, an obsession.

Not that anyone should feel superior or special from this mind you. With the quality of wine increasing, even at a more value price point, it’s hard for some people to justify an extra $20/$30 per bottle for something that A) they’ve never had, and B) they can’t drink for what can be a very long period of time.

Whichever wine consumer you happen to be as you read this, we are going to go over the benefits, and dangers, of putting a good wine down, and letting it knit together in a cellar.

Now, always remember that wines don’t change and develop the same way. It depends on where it’s grown, the vintage, the style of the winemaker, and where it’s stored,

Wines that come from the new-world (California, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, etc.) tend to have more body, more fruit, and less acidity that their old-world counterparts, and you often find that they are plenty drinkable with just a couple hours in a decanter. This is true for two main reasons: the growing seasons are much longer in these warmer climates, and give the grapes more time to ripen (and thus produce more sugar). And secondly, as few consumers are aware of the value of aging wines, when they do purchase a higher-quality bottle, either for a special occasion or for showing off to whomever, they can open it and drink it rather quickly, enjoying the basic notes that come to them.

As round and drinkable as these wines are, what is tasted initially is but a small hint of what’s to come, for under those big, juicy offerings lie a slew of secondary and tertiary notes waiting to be discovered as the aging process lowers the fruity aspects of these big wines, and let the craft of the winemaker come to pass.

On the other end of this spectrum lie the wines of the old world (France, Italy, Spain, Germany, etc.), where many wines have very little to offer in terms of fruit and other pleasurable notes. The term ‘closed’ is often used, as the aging process is not just a formality, but essential to the enjoyment of the wine. These areas see a much cooler climate, with a much shorter growing season, and more challenging vintages. Many believe a more skilled winemaker is needed to craft a wine that can see several decades pass before its able to be consumed.

In the past decade or so we have seen a sort of renaissance if the world of winemaking, as the influences of style and culture cross the oceans, producing wine that feel as though they have been made thousands of miles away, in a climate much different from where they originate. The days of tasting a wine and knowing precisely where it comes from may very well be coming to a close, as the idea that you can make great wine anywhere in the world, in any style you please slowly creep into every corner of the world. Worrying for some, exciting for others.

The one factor that never changes, however, is how to store your wine as it develops. All the research and excitement are wasted if you don’t keep your bottles in a place that sees little-to-no fluctuation in temperature. When someone keeps their wine in a kitchen, laundry room, or above a cupboard, the constant change in temperature can ruin a wine in a matter of weeks.

Keeping a wine for 5-10yrs is relatively easy, but letting a wine rest for 20+ years takes a bit more consistency. For those that have a cellar or basement this can be easier, but for those that don’t have these options, finding a refrigeration unit that best mimics a well-kept cellar is the best course of action. We are more than happy to assist those with questions regarding this, feel free to send us a message.