Storing wine: which wines will improve with age?
Wine Storage - Part 2 - which wines will keep?
More than 95% of all wine produced is intended to be drunk young, within 1 to 2 years of bottling, so is at its peak when released for sale. If you prefer a fruitier wine style then you can safely stick to younger wines. But for those that appreciate more developed flavours some wine can be kept for longer and can improve with age in bottle.
So how do we know which wines can be kept?
Cool climateA wine produced in a cool climate region is likely to age better than one from a warm climate area. The latter might taste very fruity early on but lose its acidity becoming insipid or "flat" more quickly. Cool climate wines from a hot vintage can suffer the same problem so beware unusually hot vintages.
High or moderately high acidityAs touched upon above, acidity is key. Wines that are low in acidity are not as refreshing and as the acids reduce further the wine will taste "flat" so a wine that is low in acidity is unlikely to keep for long. A wine higher in acidity has a much better chance of survival - read our blog on acidity in wine for further information.
High or moderately high tanninsRed wines with higher tannins are likely to keep longer, although if a highly tannic wine is not well-made to start with, it is unlikely to improve with age - see our blog on what makes a good wine.
Moderate alcohol levels
It is common knowledge that fortified wines with 17 - 20% ABV keep for many years. But for still wines the general rule is that lower alcohol wines will keep longer than wines above c. 13.5% ABV as oxidation occurs more quickly in higher alcohol wines.
Fruit flavoursAge-worthy wine also needs fruit flavours to balance the wine's acidity, alcohol and any tannins. Fruit flavours change over time and eventually disappear so a wine with little or one-dimensional fruit will not last as long as a wine full of intense and complex fruit flavours.
SweetnessThe sweeter the wine, generally the longer it will keep e.g. Sauternes.
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Lindsay Cornelissen DipWSET is passionate about good quality wine and set up her online wine business, Wines With Attitude, to share that passion with other wine lovers.