Five Wines That Age Well And Five Wines That Don’t

While some wines do get better with age, 99% of all the wine produced in the world actually doesn’t. So, which wines are age worthy and which ones should you drink right away? Keep reading as we explore what makes wine age worthy as well as five popular wines that are meant for cellaring and five types of vino you should enjoy sooner rather than later.

What Makes Wine Age Worthy?

The 1% of age worthy wines on the market lend themselves to cellaring because they have specific characteristics that allow them to become better with time. These traits include:

  • High acidity levels
  • Complexity
  • Moderate to high tannins
  • Either low, balanced or high alcohol levels depending on the type of wine
  • Higher residual sugar levels
  • Low VA (volatile acidity)

A Note About Alcohol Levels

The alcohol level of an age worthy wine is interesting because whether or not the level should be high or low really depends on the type of wine. High alcohol levels are necessary for aging fortified wines like Port and Sherry. ABV (Alcohol By Volume) levels of 17-20% are ideal for aging fortified wines.

However, in order for non-fortified wines to age well, they need to have lower alcohol levels (below 13.5%), otherwise they can develop a vinegar-like taste while sitting in your wine cellar.

Five Popular Wines That Age Well

These five wines tend to get better with age.

1. Sweet German Riesling
Depending on the sweetness level, a high-quality German Riesling can age anywhere from 5 to 25 years. Off-dry Rieslings should be aged on shorter side of that range, while sweeter Rieslings, like Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese can be cellered for 15 to 25 years.

2. Amarone
This red powerhouse wine made from dried grapes actually has minimum age requirements based on the type. Amarone Normale must age for a minimum of two years before drinking, and Amarone Riserva must be aged for a minimum of four years. You can cellar an Amarone for a good 20 years, and it will just keep getting better and better.

3. Cabernet Sauvignon
Of course the world’s most popular wine made our list! Due to its complexity, this cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc lends itself to aging, especially high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley or the Bordeaux region of France. A complex Cabernet Sauvignon can age from 10 to 20 years.

4. Barolo
Considered the “Wine of Kings,” Barolo is another great Italian red wine that is made from the Nebbiolo grape and known for its ability to age due to its mouth-drying tannins.

5. Fortified Wine
Fortified wines like Port and Madeira and are full of sugar and have high alcohol levels, which means they can age for a long, long time. Madeira can be aged up to 150 years, while Port ranges from 50 to 150 years depending on the type. Sherry, another fortified wine, can be dry or sweet, but it also has the ability to age up to 75 years.

Five Popular Wines You Should Drink Now

These five delicious wines should be enjoyed sooner rather than later.

1. Sauvignon Blanc
Despite its high acidity level, this refreshing white wine is meant to be consumed within 18 months to two years.

2. Rosé
Rosé wines tend not to age well due to their lack of age-friendly tannins.

3. Dry Rieslings
Dry Rieslings don’t have the high levels of residual sugar that sweet Rieslings do, so they should be consumed within three years.

4. Zinfandel
While Zinfandel is often confused with its sweet cousin, White Zinfandel, it is actually the complete opposite. Zinfandel is a bold dry fruit-forward red wine that often has strong jammy berry flavors. Zinfandel typically has higher alcohol levels (between 13% to 17%), so it is meant for drinking within 5 years of bottling.

5. Beaujolais Nouveau
This special French red wine is bottled just 6-8 weeks after harvesting and should be consumed within a year due to its lack of tannins and not-so-complex structure.

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