Have you ever had a chance to taste wine in its full maturity? If yes, then you would probably agree this is a truly memorable experience.
Still, it should be noted not all wines have the maturing potential, i.e. most of them don’t. To clarify, let us highlight the fact that only 5 % of wines in the world have the tendency to improve after having spent several years in the wine cellar. And this number makes only a part of the world’s wine production. Even lower percentage of wines refers to the wines whose quality improves after 10 or more years.
However, even though some wines are not eligible for long-term aging, that doesn’t mean they are bad. They can still be excellent for daily use. After all, you only take out your silver for special occasions, right?
Each wine is endowed with its own specific amount of acids and sugar, minerals and pigments, phenols and tannin that determine the flavor of a wine, but also its aging potential.
As red wines mature, their primary fruit aromas and flavors, most often coming from grapes, change and take dark and earthy notes known under the term bouquet whereby secondary and tertiary aromas are developed. Over time the wine texture becomes softer and smoother. Mature wine contains more complex aromas and flavors so such wines have a “finish” that seems to last much longer.
The main natural preservatives in red wines are polyphenols. As red wines age, tannins lose their bitterness and the aromatic qualities of phenols enhance, while acids and alcohols lose their “roughness” and form new compounds called esters and aldehydes. Precisely the lack of phenols in white wines is why they generally don’t support a long aging period. Yet, there is some potential for aging in case of certain wines and the “recipe” lies in botrytis, a fungus which enables some wines to age even beyond 10 years.
Since white wines contain significantly lower amount of tannin and phenolic compounds, acidity comes as their main natural preservative. Wines with enough acidity like some Chardonnays, can age as long as red wines and in some cases, Riesling for instance, even longer.
As white wines mature their color turns golden, while the acids and phenols make the wine “softer” yielding specific aromas and flavors that can be compared to honey and nuts.
All in all, we can conclude that wines “designed” for aging are crowned with two greatest awards: bouquet and texture
More at: www.vinoteka-viola.com / www.wineshop.hr
P. Mimica, MS in Agricultural Engineering