Does Wine Improve with Age? Some wines do improve with age, think of the great wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja, Napa, however, most do not. If a wine does improve with age, how long will it age for? This is a tricky question and the answer is that while you can estimate a guess you can’t really know for sure until the cork is removed.
Over the years I have kept bottles of wine thinking that in time they would mature into a fuller, more complex, richer and enjoyable wine. Some did but many did not, which can be an expense way to pour money down the sink.
So what are the factors that improve a wines ability to age? The grape variety, the soil in which the vines are grown, the tannins, the natural acidity. Matt Kramer writing in the Wine Spectator, suggests that the type of soil is an important factor in the ability of a wine to improve with age. Grapes grown on sites of schist, (Douro, Priorato) granite or chalky clay (Burgundy, Barolo) often need time to, whereas vines grown on sandy soils tend not to last as long.
Light and temperature are important factors that influence a wines quality when in storage. When storing a wine for a long period of time make sure it is dark with a constant temperature, ideally 13-14ºC. If a wine is stored at a higher temperature, 20ºC+, for a long period of time, studies have shown that the wine will deteriorate faster than the same wine stored in cooler conditions. A wine bought as part of a weekly shop, stored a room temperature is fine if you are going to drink it within a month.
Wines that improve with time make up a very small percentage of the wines that are consumed. The vast majority of wines should be drunk within 1 to 3 years. Bear this in mind when buying wines online, in a shop of from a restaurant list. Always ask for the latest vintage, especially when it comes to white wines and roses.
A good way to judge the condition of a wine is the colour. White wines in clear bottles will become more yellow with over time, this can be a sign that the wine is past its best, red wines change from have a purply blue colour at the edge to browner colours. If the wine is a Gran Reserva that is fine but if is a young wine then it is probably best avoided.
So your weekly wine purchase is best to drink now rather than store it hoping that it will improve with time. This may be a good time to check the wines you have had stored for long time!