Do you know that not all wines are designed to be aged? In fact, most wines in liquor stores these days are not made to age. This means that they will probably not age even when left on the shelf for a long time. Instead, the wine will go bad. To save yourself from disappointment, here are two important things you should know:
- Most red wines, especially the affordable ones, have a five-year span after which they go bad.
- Most of the cheap white wines have a three-year span at most before they go bad.
What factors to look for in a wine to make it age worthy
Although the opaqueness of the wine ( the color density) may seem like an important factor to consider, the trick lies in how vibrant the color of the wine is. Wine that should not be aged is duller than usual and does not have any shiny appeal. Instead, the red wine may have a slight yellow-like tint on the surface of its rim.
Red wine that can be aged has high level of tannins, meaning that it will have a more astringent bitter taste. Tannins are an important factor to check because they help preserve the wine for long periods by acting as antioxidants and keeping it fresh.
Low astringency in a red wine is one of the key indicators that the wine is not age worthy.
Red wines with high acidity are more suitable for aging as compared to wines with low acidity levels, because more acidic wines tend to last longer without going bad.
Low pH in red wines will act as an inhibitor against the chemical changes that occur during oxidation to break down the components of the wine.
Red wines with higher alcohol content tend to be more age worthy than wines with little to no alcohol content. Fortified wines or wines that have spirits (with around 20 percent alcohol content) added to them, for instance, can last for many years. A good example is Maury wine produced in the 1920s.
Simple red wines that do not have any complexities in flavor, aroma, or texture will not become more interesting with time. Therefore, avoid aging simple non-complex red wines.
Because white wines do not have the red coloration of red wines, the rules of what to check in terms of color are different from red wine. When white wine oxidizes, its color darkens. This means that white wine that can withstand aging has an almost clear color. As the wine ages and oxidizes, its color changes from clear to a yellowish brown with time. If the white wine is not clear, then it should not be aged.
Similar to red wines, white wines with low pH levels tend to be more suitable for aging unlike less acidic ones. The high acidity slows down the oxidation levels that may result into volatile acidity. Do not age white wines with high pH levels.
White wines that are sweeter than others are better for aging than the rest. The high levels of sweetness will act as the wine’s preservative during aging . Popular dessert wines like Tokaji and Sauternes, for instance, are favored by most high-end restaurants because they have aged for more than 50 years.
Important tips for aging wine
- The temperature of your wine’s storage has a large influence in its preservation and aging. If you live in an area that receives temperature levels that exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius, then you need to consider getting a wine fridge to age the wine.
- If you have access to an underground storeroom, you can also use it as a place of aging wine by storing the wine down there. The cool temperatures of the underground store will help preserve the wine.
- Temperature levels that fluctuate will accelerate the aging process of wine by up to 4 times. This means that the wine will age faster than it would when subjected to stable temperatures of a wine cellar or a storage room.
- To age wine successfully for a long time, ensure that you find a storage area where you can control the temperature levels by keeping it at 12 degrees Celsius constantly. Humidity levels should also be kept constant at 75 percent.
- If the wine you intend to age comes with its own cork, especially the natural ones, store it by placing it on its side, so that the natural cork does not shrivel or dry out over time.