Long-Term Wine Aging: The Rules & What Wines Age Best

When it comes to long-term wine aging, knowing which wines age best can often seem like a daunting task. With hundreds-of-thousands of wines available, it seems impossible to know which wines should be consumed immediately and which would be best in the far future. This doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some guidelines to help you make the right choice to ensure your storage experience is a successful one.

Basic Rules of Wine Aging

Generally, red wines age better than white wines due to the tannin and acid structure of the wine. This means, that wines that have firmer tannins have the potential to develop better with time. When it comes to white wine, however, any wines with high acidity and body will age-longer. White wines exposed to oak, have even longer aging potential. For these particular varietals, see the list below.

The use of a cork wine-stopper has been used for centuries, and this continues to be popular for a good reason. Wines that are stored with a cork allow small bits of air to filter into the wine bottle – and this is essential for wine to develop beautifully. Although screw-tops haven’t been around long enough to show the long-term aging potential, it’s believed to only be useful for wines that are consumed in one to three years.

When choosing a wine to store long-term, it is imperative to select a wine that has been kept under immaculate storage conditions prior to your purchase. Even the shortest amount of sunlight could cause irreparable damage to the wine – and would hinder the proper development of your wine. So, purchasing wines directly from the winery or from a boutique wine shop should be considered. Any super-markets or mass-stored wines generally do not store wines under ideal conditions.

The Best Varietals for Aging Wine Long-Term

When it comes to aging wines for up to ten years, there are a few great available options of varietals that have the structure to be able to age for those years. It is important to note, however, that any wines that are purchased for long-term-storage, should never be less than $30. These wines are generally not of the quality required to develop with time.

Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Tempranillo, old-world-Merlot and Grenache are generally varietals that can reach up to 10 years. When it comes to white wines, Chablis, Muscat, wooded Gruner Veltliner and Petit Mensang are among the wines that are able to reach these years too.

When it comes to aging wines for two or three decades, there are some notable varietals and styles to look out for: Red Bordeaux, Tannat, Nebbiolo, Barolo and Cabernet Sauvignon. With white wines, it is generally just sweet wines with extremely high sugar that are able to keep for that amount of time. Ice Wine, Sauternes, late harvest and fortified wines are the best examples of this.

Keeping wine long-term goes far beyond simply for enjoyment. Aged wine can be an investment – and it is essential to store these wines in the perfect conditions with cooling systems. Don’t forget that, in order to keep a wine long-term, you cannot do without a wine cellar!
Choosing the perfect wine for storage is useless if you don’t store it correctly!

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