I recently mentioned the basics of cellaring here, but sometimes I’ve been faced with the question: Does this wine need to age at all? Most wines are ready to go when bottled and may only benefit from a short amount of aging. How do you decide whether or not to age? A lot of it comes down to a couple of basic rules. First, is it a frugal find under $20? It more than likely doesn’t need to be aged. Many times these will be aged in oak barrels for an adequate amount of time before it is even bottled so aging will not benefit the final product.
(Photo Credit: Ren Kuo)
Next up, is it a red or white wine? White wines have a much lower tannin content because of their lack of content with the skins, seeds, and stems during processing. The exception to this rule is when a white wine is aged in oak barrels, where it will pick up some tannins and help round out the final product. Many Chardonnays will age for 1 – 2 years. Red wines benefit from aging much more. Big red varietals can be aged anywhere from 5 – 10 years easily, just keep an eye out for corked wines when opening. Our beautiful Oregon Pinots can benefit from 3 – 5 years of aging. If you happen to pick up a Beaujolais or Dolcetto though, those are ready almost right away.
Aging and cellaring wines can be very simple. Remember that most wines are ready right away, but some aging on big reds can help round out the harsh tannins and create a more full experience. When in doubt though, just pop that bottle open and give it a try. Cheers!