Age Like Fine Wine
Wouldn’t we all love to age like fine wine? Oh, how nice that would be. To develop beautiful aromas, taste more complex flavours, and to have a great firm structure ready to take on anything life throws at us. Instead, we eventually have troubles holding our bodily functions, loose our senses, and our ‘structure’ starts to resemble more of a melting wax figure. Let’s face it, we will eventually loose the aging battle, but hey, it’s kind of hard for wine too. Not all wine ages well, and those that do are sometimes very hard to tell when the right time to open them is. It is always a very sad, sad day when you finally open that expensive bottle you’ve been hanging onto for years, and it turns out to be vinegar. I could cry thinking about it really.
I’m sure a few of us have seen it; we’ve been to someone’s house and they’ve been holding onto a bottle for so long, always talking about opening it, but never seem to take action. We always hope we’ll be the special guest they open it in front of, if they ever do. Chances are, they probably have no clue when they should, and to be honest, I’m really not that sure myself. So, I decided to look into it.
Investing into wine is a great hobby, and can definitely be rewarding because let’s say you buy a $60 bottle of wine, once that baby ages enough over the next 10-15 years it will be worth so much more. Good wine such as Grand Reserves or Grand Cru can develop amazing flavours, aromas, and structure over time. ‘Grand Cru’ meaning that the vineyard that the wine comes from has been designated as one of the best in that particular wine growing region. It isn’t an evaluation of the wine – just that the vineyard that the grapes came from has been certified as the best in a given wine-growing region in France.
Ports are also great wines to age since the high alcohol content seems to keep the wine better. If you know anyone having a baby, 10 year old Port is a traditional gift to give them. This is because, by the time their kid is 20, or of legal drinking age, the Port will have aged for another 20 years, so now you have an amazing 30 year old port that if you were to buy in the liquor store, would be close to two hundred bucks. But hey, if you have the cash, go out and pick up a $170 dollar bottle of 1978 Taylor Fladgate 30 year old Tawny Port. This baby has amazing flavours of caramel, almonds, toffee, and a touch of molasses. So rich and robust you’ll be dying for more. Old ports and old wines tend to develop something called ‘sediment’ over time. It may look weird in the bottle, but please don’t be scared! This is a good thing!! It doesn’t mean it’s no good – I actually had an incident one time where a friend of mine thought the wine had actually spoiled and ended up throwing it out! Oh my, when I heard this I just had to shake my head. How tragic. All you need to do with old wines, or unfiltered wine at that, is go out and buy a good decanter. All old wine MUST be decanted, not only to open up the aromas and flavours, but to keep that sediment out of your glass. Never judge the first few sips either. Sometimes you’ll be hit with intense tannins and harsh acidity at first, but if you leave it alone and let the wine sit in the decanter for about 10 minutes, 15 minutes, even maybe a couple hours, you’ll allow the wine to open up and calm down to express more complex flavours.
So, back to the wine. How do you really know the right time to open an old bottle of wine you’ve been aging? First things first, you really have to monitor your storage conditions. This is so important! Wine must be stored out of direct sunlight, on its side, between 10-16 degrees celsius or else you run the risk of spoilage or oxidation. When wine is stored at the proper temperature, the wine will age so much better. Secondly, you really have to know a lot about the wine you purchased. How were the grapes grown, what was the ripeness of the grapes when fermented, how the wine was stored before you got it, etc. Also ask yourself: has it aged some time already? Even the way wine is handled can effect its aging process. For example, my mother sometimes says I won’t age very well if I don’t stop partying and if I don’t get enough rest. Wine, just like us is very sturdy when it’s young, but tends to get pretty fragile when it gets old
A different way to age wine which I think is the easy, but expensive way, would be to buy a whole case of that particular wine and then open up a bottle every six months or every year. This way, you can really see the difference in each bottle and watch how they develop over time. Then, when you finally get to a bottle that really wows you, you’ll know this is when you should enjoy the rest of the bottles. I would definitely suggest to do it this way. I think it would be so fun to see all the changes in each bottle, plus being able to have enough in order to enjoy with company once you find that perfect stage in the wines aging process.
Honestly, practice makes perfect, like everything else in life. Those wrinkles that are slowly creeping up on you; should have practiced applying the sunblock! So, with wine, play around with it. Pick up a few bottles every once and awhile to age, and try them at different times. Over time you will start to recognize certain characteristics the wine takes on and when they occur. Older wine bought for aging purposes, young wine bought for the same reason, they will all age differently. If you’d like to try to age a bottle yourself, I would probably suggest a more expensive wine, probably between thirty-five to about sixty dollars might be a good starting point, but I would drink it within the next two years. In general, more expensive wines are designed to become better with age. Most inexpensive wines do not benefit from aging. If you really want to invest, try these:
Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux, in the Medoc Region of France.
Chardonnay from Chablis and White Burgundy.
Rieslings from the best regions in Germany such as Spatlese and Auslese.
Merlot from the comunes of St.Emillion and Pomerol in Bordeaux France.
There are many more wines out there, but of course France is known for having some of the best wines in the world.
Start a new, fun hobby and age like fine wine! Good luck!