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Old 01-19-2012, 09:50 PM   #1
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Default What qualifies a wine for aging?

Hi there. What makes a wine appropriate for aging? The cheaper bottles of wine one can buy are usually best within a year of purchase while more expensive bottles improve. How can this be? Is it because of additives? Is all home-fermented wine going to get better with age if it has enough ABV to preserve it?

Thanks.

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Old 01-20-2012, 01:55 AM   #2
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Sorry - I'm not the one to give you a good answer. I did run into this post though, which is related and was very interesting to me: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f25/aging-my-wine-294440/

Best Wishes!

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Old 01-20-2012, 02:13 AM   #3
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One reason you can't age most grocery store wines is because they have been through the "micro-ox" process. This is artificial aging, meaning it is at its best when it hits the shelf.

What makes a wine good for aging is tougher. Here is a very short list of factors. There are many more things that go into it.
-Acid levels
-PH
-so2 level
-body
-tannins
-anti-oxidants
-cork quality
-bottle color/thickness

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Old 01-20-2012, 02:15 AM   #4
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A couple more factors that are good to mention.

-sugar level
-stabilization method
-alcohol level

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Old 01-20-2012, 02:23 AM   #5
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Not only that, but some wines just shouldn't be aged.

It's an oversimplification, but let's compare cheap wine to canned spaghetti sauce, and fine wine to homemade marinara sauce.

You open a can of Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce, and it's ok. It's not great, but you can eat it and enjoy it. When you're done, it won't get better in the fridge and there isn't any benefit to keeping it long term in the freezer.

But homemade marinara sauce is far more complex, and you have fresh garlic in it. You can put it in the fridge overnight, and it'll be even better the next day. You can freeze it for a year, and in a year it'll be really good and just the same as when you froze it.

Like any cheap wine, the Hunt's sauce doesn't have any complex flavors and it's low in tannins. It tastes ok and will work out fine for dinner.

A fine wine (homemade marinara from fresh ingredients) will have more complex flavors, more tannins, and can not only survive with some time but actually benefit as it'll smooth out and become richer. (The sauce in the fridge overnight).

In a homemade wine, good ingredients, a balance of tannin, sometimes oaking, and a richer must mean that aging will be a bonus. Making a wine without complex flavors, without tannin, and with lessor quality ingredients means that wine will not age well.

Most fruit wines are great up to about 2-3 years old. Some of my wines, like dandelion, were best at about 2 years old. Some of the more tannic grape wines are best at 3-5 years. It really depends on the wine, and the complexity of the flavor.

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Old 01-20-2012, 11:42 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the answers. Yooper, one question.. You mention wines that are good at 2-3 years and 3-5 years. Is there anything special about those vintages that are hundreds of years old since they continue to get better for all that time.

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Old 01-20-2012, 08:03 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the answers. Yooper, one question.. You mention wines that are good at 2-3 years and 3-5 years. Is there anything special about those vintages that are hundreds of years old since they continue to get better for all that time.
They don't continue to get better for all that time! They just might not get much worse over a long period of time. Even the best wines will peak and the flavor/taste/aroma will start to fade or change. They can pick up sherry notes over time, as oxidation changes the wine. That's why they are cellared- to slow down the aging process.
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Old 01-20-2012, 09:39 PM   #8
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Not sure if this is relevant, but all country wines that use a significant proportion of table sugar (sucrose) will require several months to a year of aging to get rid of that cidery sharpness that comes with using table sugar in a wine.

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