Why Does Wine Taste Better with Age?

Why Does Wine Taste Better with Age?

Over the centuries, humans have appreciated aged wine in its taste, potency, and quality. So, how does this work? How does wine taste better as it gets older? And does this apply to all wines? To answer all these questions, we brought in the experts, who have explained the connection between wine and age.

Michail Korovin, Pearls of Caviar PearlsofCaviar.com. According to Michail…

Aged wines taste better for many reasons. The first reason is that the tannins in red wines change with time into softer, more pleasant tannins that soften their astringent taste. Red wines also drink better after they’ve aged because some of their harsh acids mellow out due to contact with oak barrels or time alone, so even an uneducated palate might sense some difference between a 10-year-old bottle and a newborn one on the first sip.

You can’t perceive these changes until the wine has taken on its own life over time, forming some complexity beyond what’s always tasted in wines that have done this.

The second reason is that those harsh acids will keep on mellowing out over time due to contact with oak barrels or time alone, and as wine ages, its flavor profile changes because even the alcohol content varies greatly during the aging process.

It’s like a good apple pie – it has some balance of sweet and tart, and over time the acid usually ends up dominating, so that’s why wines taste smoother.

The last reason is that all wines improve over time –  but to different degrees. Some wines are made in such a way that they will not improve much over time (e.g., Cava), while others like Ports, Sherry, and many reds said to be bottle-worthy will go through big changes over decades or centuries.

Aging depends on the type of wine you make and even the type and quality of your storage, and sometimes wine-makers do their best to keep wines from aging altogether.

Greg Martellotto is the Owner of Bighammerwines.com. According to Greg…

First of all, it is really important to clarify that not all wine tastes better with age. In fact, most of the wines that we find in the market should be drunk at a young age. 95% of all wines produced should be drunk within 3-5 years of production.

Exceptions to this rule are wines at the top of the drinking pyramid, including high quality, classified, grand cru Bordeaux, grand cru red Burgundy, and the best producers of Chateauneuf du Pape. Additionally, some Napa Cabernets, some top Italian wines from Piemonte, Tuscany, and Campania are suitable for long-term aging. Fortified, sweet wines like vintage port, some tete de cuvee vintage champagnes, and some top white Rieslings from Germany can also benefit from extended aging. When a wine is suitable to age, it can result in greatness. 

Wine tastes better because it has compounds that are capable of improving its sensory perception. Tertiary aromas develop over time which adds depth, layers of flavors, and complexity. One important fact to consider when aging wine is the storage conditions. You have to be careful that the wine doesn’t get contaminated and allow the wine to have a correct evolution and not oxidation. 

Jessyca Frederick writes Useful Wine Guides. According to Jessyca…

The belief that wine tastes better with age is as subjective as wine preferences are in general. Certain chemical changes occur in wine as it ages that some people may prefer: tannins become smoother, primary fruit flavors like cherry and pineapple become less intense, and since most wine that ages well is on the acidic side, they tend to like brighter wines. 

I know plenty of people who prefer mouth-puckering, grippy tannins, and a punch-in-the-mouth, fruit-forward red wine to milder forms of the vinous beverage. Also, some wines age better than others. 

Timothy Woods is the Owner, Director, and Editor of Carnivore Style. According to Timothy…

Because of a complex chemical reaction involving sugars, acids, and chemicals known as phenolic compounds, wine improves with age. This chemical process can change the taste of wine over time, giving it a pleasant flavor. The natural acidity in white wine helps to enrich its flavor over time.

Chiara Gomiero is the Founder and Writer at handywineguide.com. According to Chiara…

Aging adds complexity and allows flavors and atoms to further evolve. That’s why we generally hear that wines taste better with age. Not all wines are meant to age, and for those wines, aging will actually damage the wine.  

Do All Wines Taste Better with Age?

Not all wines will taste better with age. This is certainly true for most white wines, like Pinot Grigio, to name one, and those red wines that enter the market soon after they are bottled and are meant to be consumed as soon as possible after entering the market. For the rest of the wines, aging will play a role in evolving the wine’s flavors, aromas, and structure.

Why Certain Wines Tastes Better with Age?

Wine is an organic product, it has its own life, and aging is a technique that allows the wine to evolve over time. The wine’s color is a good indicator of the aging stage, for example. If you open a very old red wine, you’ll see that it has probably turned tawny. Let’s take a look at barrel and bottle aging.

Barrel aging is typical for red wines; Merlot and Syrah are an example and add the so-called tertiary flavors to the wine. Barrel aging allows enough contact between the wine and barrel wood so that the wine can absorb some of its flavors, like vanilla, coffee, tobacco, cocoa, etc.

Bottle aging: even within the bottle, the wine continues to evolve; that’s why it’s important to store it properly in a dark place with humidity and constant temperature between 11-16 C as otherwise, it could evolve in unexpected ways. 

Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic example of a wine that requires a few years in bottle before it gives its best. That’s because of its high level of tannins that will become milder over time, allowing that smoother sensation when drinking the wine.

To summarise, only those wines that are meant to age are actually improving over time, and that’s primarily down to the fact that flavors, aromas, and structures evolve in a way that adds complexity to the wine and, by doing so, makes the overall experience more pleasant. 

Christine Clair is the Winery Director at Willamette Valley Vineyards in Oregon. According to Christine…

As wines continue to age in the bottle, the flavor profiles develop and evolve to the wine’s full maturity. Depending on the wine varietal, the development of the wine can vary. Fruit-forward notes will evolve to reveal more secondary notes like earth and spice, and firm tannins will soften over time to lengthen and smooth the finish. 

Particular vintages are also used for celebrating a special occasion or milestone; the wine you served at your wedding, the year you became a parent, or shared a final toast to honor a lost loved one. Wine is so special that it never stops developing and will continue to bring you back to that special moment when you first experienced your favorite vintage. 

Willamette Valley Vineyards uses a natural cork for all its wine enclosures, allowing the right amount of oxygen in the bottle to allow the wine to gracefully age and develop in your cellar.