These past few weeks as the New Year has sunk in, and we’ve gotten used to typing 2017, it got us thinking about “ageing”, and in particular “wine and ageing”, as after all, if you are going to keep your wine you are going to need a storage solution too!
We’ve written before about how best to cellar your wine and about how wine collecting is seen by some as an investment, and recently an article by South African wine writer Tim James’s caught our eye and gave us a chuckle, mainly because of his opening statement:
“There are two aspects, I’m afraid, to this matter of wine and ageing: both the drinker and the drink are subject to the implacable, slowly inexorable process of oxidation. And the end, for both of them, is the point where their respective raisons d’etre (drinking and getting drunk, respectively) collapse into uselessness”.
Too true, on all counts!!!
But, “Oxidation” is of course a problem that can be avoided for our collection of wine, and apart from the obvious solution to the issue, i.e. drinking it as soon after it has been purchased as possible, an alternative method is to take care with it’s storage, especially where humidity is concerned, and to lay the bottle on its side, particularly if sealed with a cork - but we’ve told you all this before.
Plus, we know that from just this one paragraph you are already starting to think that the challenges involved in ageing your wine far outweigh the benefits when the option to consume is so obviously the solution to avoiding any such problems in the first place, and this probably explains why “Today, most wine in New Zealand is consumed on the day it is bought and just 1 per cent is cellared for more than a year”, at least according to Michael Cooper, one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed wine writers.
However, if you’re looking for a reason to persevere, Jeff Leve, The Wine Cellar Insider, states that: “the magic in the bottle does not truly display its complexities until it has become properly cellared and aged. The palate texture, flavor profile and levels of aromatic complexities experienced in older, mature bottles of wine offer unequalled tasting experiences that cannot be replicated in younger wines….. the world’s best wines improve, evolve, soften and develop not only extremely complicated aromatic bouquets, but textures of silk and velvet that are unlike those found in young wine".
The obvious question that you are now asking is “why does aged wine taste different?
Dave McIntyre, a columnist and wine writer for the Washington Post, recently wrote about the difference keeping a bottle of wine properly cellared can have on the wine, when asked this same question by a reader. Not a simple answer, as Dave was at pains to point out, but he summed it up as thus:
“Wine is alive. Its ability to age is what sets it apart from all other beverages. Beer goes stale over time. Soda goes flat. Liquor might not spoil, but then again, it doesn’t transform. Wine mimics our life cycle: It starts young, then matures into a more complete and harmonious drink, maybe even going through a brooding teenage phase before reaching its peak performance level. Eventually, it begins to decline and, ultimately, dies. That is one reason we romanticise wine, why it is expensive, exclusive and intimidating”.
He then goes on to examine some of the science behind ageing, wine that is, not human! So maybe there is a benefit to keeping our purchase for longer than 24 hours after all, and if so, how long should we keep our wine for?
To be honest, there are so many differing opinions out there that we are hesitant to publish a definitive answer, and in reality it comes down to taste, taste, and taste again; so just because you want to cellar the wine doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t drink it!
However, in order to not be accused of evading the question, we did find this tutorial from Wine Folly: “5 Steps in Deciding How Long to Age a Wine”
So give it a try, and of course remember that the key to ageing and cellaring wine is temperature control and humidity, along with a lack of light and vibration, and of course a wine rack.
An easy way to start is to buy your wine by the case, and pair it with Winerax’s WRX12 12 bottle wine rack,so you can try a bottle or two now, and compare and contrast in X years time, and if you use the WRXCT cellar tags too, you can keep your wine collection organised - Simple!