Why Age Wines? 

Hello everyone! I’m so glad you joined me today so we can all learn a little more about my favorite topic: wine! Now, I’m sure you all know that wine is aged a certain amount of time. You don’t just drink a red wine. You drink a 2011 Cabernet. And what’s that Cab been doing in the eight or nine years since it was bottled? What we all do over the course of time…age! Just like a good-looking dude, great wines develop over time, trading youthful vivacity and fresh, primary fruit flavors for aromatic depth and a layered, subtle complexity. Other wines, like Barolos or classified-growth Bordeaux, can be aggressively tannic when they’re young and require aging to make them drinkable.

Most know that wineries age their wines (even if we didn’t specifically know why). But for a lot of people, this doesn’t really translate to them aging their own wine after they buy it. As I mentioned in another video, the average ‘cellaring time’ for most Americans is 15 minutes (yep, the time it takes to buy the bottle, get it home, and open it!). Because of this, many winemakers are adapting to the change in consumer behavior and make their wines much more approachable in their youth. Some use extensive oak aging to soften their tannins while other use micro-oxygenation (injecting small amount of oxygen into the wines over a period of time to soften the harsh tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon in its youth). The Bordeaux region was the pioneer of this technology, but many winemakers who use micro-oxygenation don’t publicize it because it’s not considered ‘artisanal’. The process also can’t duplicate the secondary aromas that are developed in wines that have been carefully aged. Those who have the patience to wait are definitely rewarded!

So should you age all your wines to let them get better?

The above being said, don’t make the mistake of thinking that aging wine will make ALL of them better. Not all wines are made for aging and some are meant to be enjoyed fresh. For example, Beaujolais nouveau, a wine from France made with the Gamay grape, is only fermented for a few weeks before it’s released for sale. This is a simple wine that should be consumed quickly (hence the word ‘nouveau’ which literally translates to ‘new’). This wine is literally telling you it’s a new wine and don’t you dare age it!

What qualities does a wine need to have to be age-worthy?

Certain characteristics are needed for a wine to improve with age. Good amounts of tannins, alcohol and/or sugar will all help the wine age. However, there is one even more important factor that must be present for a wine to last: acid. You can have acid without the other elements and a wine will still age well. But if you have all the other factors and no acid? No go.

For example, a German Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese is low in alcohol and has no tannins but it can last for a century. Why? Because it has good acidity (and good sugar too.)

A legendary Bordeaux can last half a century or more, but it has no sugar and low alcohol. How does it do it? Acid! (And usually a good amount of tannins when it started.) The point is, acid is your friend when it comes to wine. It helps keep the wine lively and fresh through the years. Honestly, I should have a t-shirt printed up that says ‘I love acid and acid loves me!’ Well, maybe not….

How do you know which wine is age-worthy and which one is not?

This is not an easy question to answer and it all comes down to a lot of studying and years of experience. After all, if it were super easy, I would be out of a job!! If you’re interested in learning more about how to choose age-worthy wines and age them correctly, please subscribe to my channel so we can continue learning together! Feel free to comment below on any specific questions you have or other aspects of wine you want to know about and I’ll talk about them in a future video. Until then, hit that like button and share with all your friends full of wine curiosity! Drink responsibly and enjoyably. Cheers!


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