Do All Wines Become Better With Age?
You must have heard that the older a wine, the better it tastes. Ageing a bottled wine (by storing it in a cool and dark place for certain years) was a common practice and said to make the wine improve its flavour and texture as it rests in the bottle.
However, things have changed. Wine ageing was undoubtedly popular back in the day but, today, most of the wine that sits on shelves doesn’t benefit from ageing in the bottle and fall under the category of drink-now. Why? Yes, wine evolves with age with the interaction of elements like acid, sugar, tannins, polyphenols, oxygen and these bring favourable or at time unfavourable changes in the wine. During this evolution, wine goes through a stable stage where it tastes its best. Today, winemakers know this high-performance stage of the wine and bottle their wines accordingly to sell them at the right time thus enabling you to drink your chosen wine immediately. Usually, for white wines, they perform peak for one to two years and red wines for three to four years.
It is believed that 97% of wine produced in the world is for drink-now (drink before 4 years) while only 3% is actually considered suitable for ageing (more than 4 years). Wine prices can also be an indicator of whether the wine is suitable for ageing. Wine up to 30 euros is drink-now and beyond that, it’s fit for ageing. However, there are always exceptions.
If you’re looking to age a wine in your cellar, the best option is to ask a wine expert at the wine store or at the wineries where they can guide you to an elegant ageing wine. People are biased towards sweet or dessert wines high in alcohol and sugar as they age well.
So the answer to the question, do all wines become better with age? No, the ones suitable for ageing are marketed accordingly. Which do you prefer?