Knowing which wines to age and which to drink soon after purchasing can be a rather tricky undertaking. A combination of personal preference and tried and true techniques, knowing which grape varieties generally age well is as important as the conditions you store your wine. Even if your wine cellar or wine refrigerator has all the right combinations of storage, temperature, and humidity, if you place the wrong wine for 5, 10 or 15 years, you may be disappointed with the outcome. Some wines are meant to be enjoyed young, while others do best with time spent resting and aging gracefully.
Generally, red wines with high levels of tannin do well with some aging. For more information on tannin and the role it plays in aging, explore our Aging Wine article. To learn which grape varieties age well, BeverageFactory.com has put together a list which explores the main grape varieties that do well with a few years of wisdom under their belt. After all, if you are searching for the perfect wine cellar, it's going to need the perfect wine to keep it company!
Bordeaux Blends: Made from red grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Bordeaux Blends age as well as any wines on the market. While most wines who are age worthy cost upwards of $25, Bordeaux blends seem designed to increase in warmth even at prices as low as $18.
Cabernet Sauvignon: This red grape variety is truly a giant in the world of wine. With growth potentially all over the word, Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerful wine on its own or when blended with other grape varietals. Full bodied and dry, Cabernet is initially filled with tannins allowing the wine to develop complexity and a color of deep red with age.
Merlot: Forget what that guy on Sideways said about Merlot because this wine produces quality blends and bottles all over the world. With hints of plum, cherry, blackberry, and spice, Merlot definitely benefits from aging becoming softer and more complex with time.
Riesling: Riesling sometimes gets discounted by American palates for being too sweet. The truth about Riesling is that it is a complex white grape which when slightly sweet and rich to begin with becomes even more delicious with age.
Syrah/Shiraz/Petite Sirah: While this red grape has three different names, it is basically the same variety with the name dependent more on the location it was grown. With aromas and flavors of pepper, blackberry and smoke, this wine is extremely complicated and delicious especially when aged.
Pinot Gris: While from the same white grape, Pinot Gris differs from Pinot Grigio in that it is rich and fruit filled where its cousin is light, crisp, and acidic. Pinot Gris is generally medium bodied and ages very well.
Pinot Noir: Full in flavor, velvety in the mouth, subtle yet powerful, Pinot Noir is a complicated and yet totally worth-it red grape variety. While it can be finicky to grow, a good Pinot ages to new heights of intensity and fullness when aged for 10 or more years.
Zinfandel: The red grape Zinfandel loves sunny California where it grows most prolific. With intense flavors of berry jams, Zinfandel can be both dry and sweet with specific variations such as those that are full bodied and high in tannins aging very well.
Notes from the Cellar
Like with most matters regarding wine, aging is a personal preference much as wine variety. There is no doubt that certain wines, especially the ones listed above with high tannin levels, will benefit in flavor and complexity from some time in a wine cellar. However, how long the wine should remain in the wine cellar is usually best determined by a bit of trial and error. With a case of wine, the best thing we can recommend doing is trying a bottle every now and then to see how you like it and how it is coming along. After all, while wine is indeed a form of art, it is a form edible art. The enjoyment of storing and aging wine is only complete upon consumption.
For More Exclusive BeverageFactory.com Information on Storing, Aging, and Drinking Wine, explore the links below!