By Katherine Turner.
We have often heard people appreciating drinking an aged wine as vintage bottles are preferred over newer ones. Worldwide, old wines are sold for extraordinary prices. There is an element of fascination associated with it. It is also true that an aged wine has interesting flavors and textures that can’t be experienced with a young wine. A wine ages when it is stored in a dark, cool place for several years, allowing it to improve as it sits in its bottle.
There are various factors which determine the aging of wine. Apart from a few traits of wine itself, the storage method, bottle, the variety of the grape, region of the vineyard, winemaking style and the cork also contribute in this process. The wine quality also depends on the conditions that the bottle of the wine is kept in. Interestingly, 99% of wines are meant to be consumed within 5 years of its manufacture. This indicates that most of the wines are consumed young worldwide.
The complexity of wines has interested man for years. Wine experts rely on their past experiences to understand what ages a wine well.
Factors which determine the aging of wine:
They are the textural component in wine which makes it dry. Tannins are responsible for the astringency and the bitterness of red wine, which often confuses wine lovers who are always ready to toast their glasses. Tannins in wine come from stems, seeds, skins of grapes. The extraction largely depends on the winemaking process that is being followed. Few tannins also come from barrels used to age wine, especially new ones.
The chemical nature of tannins evolves during the winemaking process. Wine smooths out when there is a balance between wood tannins and grapes tannin. Apart from tannins helping the wine to age, the wine should also be well- balanced so that it improves over time.
Interestingly, several white and red wines do not need tannins to age well as they are balanced well to begin with. Red wines with a higher tannin number age well as compared to red wines with lesser tannins.
The acidity in wine is the ‘tardiness’ that refreshes your tongue, and makes the drinker go for another sip. A wine which tastes fresh and crisp, refers to its higher acidity. Both red and white wines can be described as crisp, fresh and bright.
With aging, wine loses its acids and becomes ‘flatter’. Wines with higher acidity will taste better after aging than the lower acidity ones. Understandably, aging higher acidity wines will make it to the long haul.
3) Alcohol Level
There can be a difference in the alcohol contents of even the same vintage wines because of minor differences which come due to fermentation. The fermentation process of wine is long as the time required for the yeast to swallow the sugar from grapes and release the alcohol. With exceptions, there are non- fortified wines in which alcohol is volatile and turns the wine into vinegar quickly. Many wine connoisseurs have the ability to detect differences in alcohol variation when a new bottle of the same wine is opened. The alcohol content in wine is mostly mentioned on its bottle label.
It should also be remembered that essentially all the wines are not always better with age. Many elements of wine evolve with time and in some wines this change may be beneficial, while in others it may not. Aroma, colour, flavour of the wine changes and the the framework of the wine will decide whether these changes will add to the quality of wine or not.It is rightly said- A bottle of vintage wine and a box of rich dark chocolate stands for nothing less than an epicure’s idea of heaven!