These days most wines are made to enjoy sooner rather than later, and certainly within the year of purchase. There are however a few heavyweights like some of the Excelsior red wines that will benefit from a certain amount of cellaring to soften the tannins and integrate the flavours. So what traits in wine allow it to age well?
• Acid – as a wine ages, it loses acid, so a wine that has a higher acid content will have a better chance of aging well.
• Tannin – Red wines with a higher tannin content tend to age better. Tannins are extracted from the pips and skins of the grape. It adds to the structure of the wine and with aging, smooths out and softens into a wine that is more balanced.
• Alcohol – Alcohol is volatile in non-fortified wines and can cause a wine to sour more easily. Rule of thumb – an alcohol level of around 13,5% or less can generally be aged.
• Sugar – The longest lived wines tend to be sweet ones like port and sherry, which can literally last for decades.