Aging your wines

It's tempting to start consuming your wine right after bottling it, and in fact, there are many wines that can be consumed right after bottling and be everything you want them to be. But if you really want to maximize your wine's potential, a little time left alone in the bottle can make the difference.

With age, most red wines which begin life with obvious fruity aromas and some degree of astringency ('bite') will develop softer, gentler, more complex aromas and flavours. The wines become richer, as the fruit mellows and the astringent tannins relax and contribute to the body and character.

Many white wines also benefit with age. Whites intended for ageing may display exceedingly high acid levels which will soften over time, uncovering wonderful textures and flavours.

Components of wines differ by variety or blend, and thus react differently to ageing. Some wines require longer ageing periods than others. For example:

  More Ageing Some Ageing Little Ageing
Reds:           Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot All blush wines
  Barolo Style Pinot Noir  
  Luna Rossa    
       
White: Chardonnay/Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Liebfraumilch Style
  Luna Bianca Johannisberg Riesling Piesporter
       

Different factors exert influence on the rate of ageing and can contribute to a better ageing potential:

Storage - A very big factor, discussed in more detail under Storage (see below)

Cork quality - The longer and less porous the cork, the better the oxygen barrier, extending ageing potential.

Ullage - The amount of headspace in the bottle. Leaving 1 inch is best.

Sulphite level - Higher concentrations protect from oxidation.

So how should you treat the ageing period for different Winexpert products? The answer depends on many factors. For example, using a long, high quality cork or adding some extra sulphite at bottling will extend the maximum age period. Thus, use the following as a general guideline only:

  BEST AFTER BEST BEFORE
Selection Reds 3 - 6 months 3 years
Selection Whites 3 - 6 months 2 years
Vintners Reserve Reds 2 months 1 year
Vintners Reserve Whites 1 month 1 year
Island Mist Immediate 1 year