Is it worth ageing wine?
“With age comes complexity but wines get more similar with time. You find more nuances in young wines. They are purer and wilder and you can taste the place where they came from and the earth in which the grapes are grown.”
This quote comes from a Portuguese winemaker and there is a lot of truth in it. Try to guess the origin of an older wine and you will see. It’s not easy. An old hermitage tastes like an old bordeaux like an old rioja like an old chianti, just to take one example. Nigh impossible to tell the difference. In the wine world, youth is undervalued.
Admittedly, most wines are drunk young, but an old wine still put a sparkle in people’s eyes. Or maybe not so much anymore? But often we have the feeling when we taste young wines together with other people that they think the wines should be aged. That you simply don’t drink wines as young as these. You wait.
But do people really like the taste of old wines? (When a wine is considered “old” is of course open to discussion.)
I have innumerable times listened to stories about people who say they poured out the wine in the drain because it was undrinkable. Wines of supposedly good quality. If the wine is just old, too old, undrinkable or not, is a matter of taste. But it is important to understand what happens to a wine when it gets older. The change is more important than perhaps you realize. It is true, complexity comes (sometimes) with age, but, as the Portuguese points out above, the initial character of the wine disappears. The wine may be delicious, but it is much more “anonymous” than it was in its youth.
Age is not a purpose of its own in wine and it is not necessarily so that a wine improves with age. It will definitely change into something different. But rarely change to “bad”.
The vast majority of consumers are used to drinking wines that are quite young. There are few people who regularly drink old wines, so most people simply don’t have the habit and experience of drinking old wines. And old wines are different. When the cork is pulled out of the old venerable bottle at that special occasion, the flavours are completely different from what one is used to in a wine. Dried fruits, leather, not very much fruit and freshness, almost some sweetness… And then one thinks something is wrong with the wine because it is “strange”, and out it goes in the sink. But maybe the wine was just old. And different.
When you ask a producer when they think one should drink their wine they often answer “now”, or maybe “if you like it now, drink it now.” Maybe it is in their interest. Drink up and buy a new bottle!
But surely purer and wilder sounds quite attractive?
It is time to start planning your vinous excursions this coming autumn. We have two very delicious wine tours coming up in September and October, to Champagne and to Bordeaux. Book now! More info in the Brief.
And if you like long term planning, and long distance travelling, we have almost finished the programs for the winter of 2020, with Chile-Argentina, South Africa, and New Zealand. More info in the Brief.
By the way, in a little over one week’s time we’re off to New Zealand for this year’s Kiwi adventure. Exciting!
Why travel with BKWine?
This month’s argument is that BKWine is one of the few true wine tour specialists with more experience and more completed wine tours than almost anyone else. And that we make tours that are designed for you, not because we want to sell you some wine (we don’t sell wine) or have some deal with an importer; instead we make tours to give you the best travel experience and the best wine experience.
Enjoy the Brief!
Britt & Per
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief !
This post is also available in: Swedish