Most wines sold in the U.S. are made for immediate consumption without the need for cellaring. Some wine lovers, however, prefer to “lay wine down,”—or store bottles for a few years in order to enjoy them when the flavors have evolved.So what happens as wine ages, and how do its flavors change? Which wines should be aged? And, most importantly, why do we age wines at all? Here’s what you need to know.
What happens to wine’s flavor as it ages?
When wines are young, we taste their primary flavors, like grassiness in Sauvignon Blanc, plum in Merlot, apricot in Viognier or citrus in Riesling. We may also notice some secondary notes associated with winemaking techniques, like the vanilla flavor of oak or buttery nuances from malolactic fermentation.When wines age, we start speaking about tertiary notes, or flavors that come from development. This could mean young, bold notions of fresh fruit that become gradually more subdued and reminiscent of dried fruit. Other flavors, previously hidden by bold primary notes, come to the fore, like honey, herbal notes, hay, mushroom, stone and earth.
What causes these changes?
in wine is ever static. Acids and alcohols react to form new compounds. Other compounds can dissolve, only to combine again in another fashion. These processes happen constantly and at different rates. Every time you open a bottle, you catch the wine at another stage in its development, with new and different nuances. While the proportion of alcohol, acids and sugars stay the same, the flavors continue to change.
How texture develops in wine
Texturally, the wines also change. Dry, aged white wines can become almost viscous and oily, while reds tend to feel smoother. This is due to phenolic compounds like tannins falling out as sediment over time [ . . . ]
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