How to Age Wines

The best tips to age wines

Wine is a unique beverage. Unlike most alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, wine can age, just like people. The question is, how to age wines? And, what’s the point?

Wine can age, which is not the same thing as saying that it can withstand the taste of time. Wine can have a long shelf life, but that’s not all — the wine’s personality changes as it rests in a quiet, dim-lit cellar.

Allowing your wine collection to gain complexity over time is one of the most pleasurable hobbies and the best way to enjoy the world’s best wines. How to age wine? Read on and learn all there is to know about it.

Not All Wine Can Age

Yes, wine can age, but not all of it. In fact, 95% of the wine produced worldwide is meant to be enjoyed young. Between 1-3 years for white wine and between 3-5 years for reds.

Only five per cent of the wine in the market can be enjoyed after extended periods, but that’s not all — age-worthy wine evolves over time, becoming more interesting and stimulating.

To make age-worthy wine, producers must use premium grapes grown in ideal sites, where the fruit ripens to perfection while gaining complexity and concentration. Wine meant to age starts in the vineyard, and it can’t be faked.

Age-worthy wine can evolve for a decade or more, and red wine can be still enjoyed after half a century. The longest-lived wines are usually sweet, fortified wines, in which extra sugar and alcohol help preserve the wine, sometimes for centuries.


The Right Storage Conditions

Once you’ve purchased a few bottles of wine to lay down, ensure you have the right storage conditions to let the wine evolve and become more complex over time. These are the basics of storing wine in right storage conditions.

A dark place. Wine is sensitive to light, especially direct sunlight, so store your wine in a dark place away from intense light sources.

A cold place. Cold temperatures allow for slow maturation. The warmer the cellar, the faster the wine will evolve. The ideal temperature to age wine is between 10-16°C.

A calm place. Ensure your wine is not disturbed by you or a vibration source. Store wine bottles horizontally in a stable rack.

The right humidity. The ideal humidity for wine storage is anywhere between 60-68%. High humidity will damage the bottles’ labels, while low moisture might dry out their cork.


What Happens to Wine as It Ages?

Wine is ever-evolving. In fact, every bottle of wine eventually reaches its peak and decline, and all wine turns into vinegar over time. Still, the ageing process is more complex than that.

As wine ages, some of the pigments and tannins polymerise and precipitate to the bottom of the bottle. Alcohols and acids combine and recombine to form new aromatic molecules as well.

Since oxygen unavoidably finds its way into the bottle eventually, wild yeasts and bacteria cause complex biochemical reactions, making the wine smell and taste more interesting before the microorganisms ruin the wine altogether.


What Does Aged Wine Taste Like?

Aged wine tastes different during the various stages of its maturation process. Both white and red wines tend to be fruit-forward when young, and their fruit aromas dissipate with time.

In their place, tertiary aromas appear. Red wines might offer scents reminiscent of earth, leather, mushrooms and truffles, while white wines can develop honey, caramel, saffron and tea scents.

Oak scents, including vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and baking spices, become more subtle as they integrate with the wine’s character. These complex combinations of aromas and flavours are the wine’s bouquet, and it continues to evolve.


How to Pair Aged Wine with Food?

Aged wine might have complex bouquets, but these scents are also delicate. Young red wine with a potent fruit-forward personality is the perfect match for big and bold foods, like fatty steaks and braised meat.

Aged red wine might have lost some of its intensity, but it’s not much more compatible with more refined dishes, like truffled pasta, duck confit, foie gras, and mature cheese. When it comes to wine and food pairings, there are no right or wrong answers, and experimentation is critical to finding harmony between wine and your meal.

Age Wine at Home

Having a few bottles of wine maturing in your cellar is moving, and it’s even more appealing if the wine has a story.

Portugal is a beautiful place to start if you want age-worthy wine with an exciting personality. Wines from Port and Douro are amongst the most age-worthy in Europe, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know there are a few age-worthy gems hidden in other regions.

Quinta dos Vales, a leading wine estate in Algarve, Southern Portugal, produces award-winning white and red wines worthy of any cellar. The estate’s finest wines, part of the Grace and Dialog collections, are extraordinary wines that will age gracefully for years.


Learn More, Get Involved!

If you want to learn more about wine and how to enjoy it, visit us at Quinta dos Vales. From romantic weekend getaways to long-term stays, our estate offers unique wine experiences, from delightful wine dinners to playful tastings.

Quinta dos Vales also offers a one-of-a-kind Winemaker Experience, which allows you to make your own wine, whether you want to blend your own bottle of wine or manage an entire vineyard. The sky’s the limit! Quinta dos Vales counts with three swimming pools, tennis courts and much more. Algarve is a prime holiday destination, and there’s something to swoon everyone’s senses.

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