Almost every wine available at the grocery store is designed for early consumption. Fruit forward wines from Australia, New Zealand, North and South America and South Africa typically need to be consumed within 2-3 years. Many European wines also lack the structure necessary to help a wine age gracefully. In fact, there are many variables used to determine a wine’s age worthiness, including a wine’s vintage, varietal, quality, and winemaking techniques used. But sometimes it’s difficult to determine a wine’s aging potential without tasting a barrel sample or popping a cork shortly after the wine is bottled.
Young wines that tend to age the best display pronounced tannins, acidity or sugar, all of which are natural preservatives. Big reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo, have the best aging potential because of their intense tannins. White Burgundies and Rieslings from Germany and Aslace make up for their lack of tannins with high acidity levels. Meanwhile, dessert wines like Sauternes and German Beerenausleses contain high amounts of sugar that help them age gracefully. But these wines also require vivacious fruit and a firm structure that will stick around until the tannins and acidity soften.
Until you start to become more serious about collecting wine or start purchasing bottles priced over $25, don’t worry about trying to age the wine you purchase. But if you’re looking to shed your newbie status and don a pair of spectacles, one of the quickest ways to geekdom is to start a wine cellar with plenty of age-worthy wines. Here is a quick list of regions and varietals that tend to age the best:
· Alsace, France – Gewürztraminers and Rieslings
· Bordeaux, France – reds and whites from Cru Producers.
· Bugrundy, France – reds and whites labeled Grand Cru or Premier Cru
· Champagne, France – vintage Champagnes
· Germany and Austria – fine Rieslings
· Italy – robust reds such as Barbaresco, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Taurasi
· Portugal – vintage Ports
· Spain – reds from the Rioja and Priorato regions
· United States – Cabernet Sauvignon made by notable California producers
Keep in mind this is a general guideline. The wine could age better or worse depending on variables such as the vintage or the winemaker’s techniques.