Is it safe to say that all wines improve with age?

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Rocky

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Do all wines get better with age?
If not, which wines don't?
Most, but not all. It really depends a lot on the variety and the vintage. Most whites do not age well but there are exceptions. I recall when I was in Germany in the Service 1965-1967, white wines from 1961, -62, and -64 (both Moselle and Rhine) were prized and spectacular, but 1963's and 1965's were not. An example of a red that does not normally age well is Beaujolais. They are best enjoyed within the first year or two.
 
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distancerunner

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Hence Beaujolais Nouveaux! Neighbors across the street used to have a party every year when it was released. Alas, they moved.

When we’re careful maximizing tannin and using good corks we can get five to seven years with annual improvement. So, grape and vintage dependent. On the east coast, factor in the supplier and how much you’re willing to spend, too.
 
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Do all wines get better with age?
If not, which wines don't?
ALL wines get better with age. The better question is "what age is that?" ;)

Most of my whites are good for 2 to 4 years, but I've had a few crap out at 1.5 years, some (which were still decent at 3 years) peaked at less than a year, and one unexpected lasted 7 years.

Reds? While varietal is typically touted at the aging potential indicator, I have found that grape quality and winemaking style are bigger factors. I generally expect 4 to 7 years from heavier reds, but have been surprised by light reds aging well.

In general, higher ABV, tannin, acid, body, and sugar indicate longer aging potential. But I've had wines last far longer than expected, while others failed much earlier than expected. Mother Nature and Dionysus are in charge and are amused by messing with us mere humans.
 

Jusatele

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are we speaking just grape wines?
because fruit wines can be just the fruit used
besides that, just look at what professional wine produces say, they typically say that a old world wine matures 2 or 3 years after the same style of new world wine and discuss the soils of the growth area. I have no experience in that but I do know that white wines get sold and consumed a lot younger than reds. Fruit wine are sold as soon as finished. some styles of red wines, such as Zinfandel, are sold as soon as the next year to be consumed.
OK that is about getting to maturity
now about how they age.
That is up to so many factors it really is complicated. First at what temperature are they being kept at, it really matters a lot. Are they stored so the corks stay fresh? how does tht style of wine hold up when aged? Are they exposed to sunlight? or just light? the list of what can they effect them is very long.
my fruit wines get drank within 2 years, my white wines are about the same maybe a bit longer, my reds get drank before 3 years
I buy commercial wines and drink them within a few weeks of purchase.
so my question to the OP is: What type of wine and how do you store it?
 
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@Jusatele's comments brought another thought to mind -- various sources state that 90% of the world's wine production is designed for consumption within 3 years. We need to consider that this includes a large volume jug wines, which are drinkable as soon as they are sold and aging is a mistake. Folks on WMT who age wines longer than 3 years are in the minority, which is ok, since as home winemakers we're already in a minority. ;)

I drink my wines when they are ready to drink. I don't worry about a timetable. I sample a batch 3 to 6 months after it's bottled, and sample periodically until I consider it "good", then I don't worry about it. My oldest current wines are from 2018 -- wines made before that were drinkable and got used up. Fortunately I have newer wines in the rack and in production.
 

Jusatele

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I wonder when aging wine became a big thing?
did they age wines for years in the 1400s?
or is it something that has become popular with the advent of cheap glass bottles?
I wonder if the king of Scotland, throwing a enormous feast, ever got off his feet to browse his wine cellar to impress his guest. or did he stand up and take a huge bight out of a sheep's leg, fart loudly and yell, "Crack open another keg of that red wine Sir Jeffery brought and lets party. Tell the band to play some more AC DC while your at it." Next morning he wakes up in a scandalous situation, looks around at the 5 wenches and 2 goats in his bed, and shouts, "My God we need to age that shit for prosperity".
 
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VinesnBines

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I wonder when aging wine became a big thing?
did they age wines for years in the 1400s?
or is it something that has become popular with the advent of cheap glass bottles?
I wonder if the king of Scotland, throwing a enormous feast, ever got off his feet to browse his wine cellar to impress his guest. or did he stand up and take a huge bight out of a sheep's leg, fart loudly and yell, "Crack open another keg of that red wine Sir Jeffery brought and lets party. Tell the band to play some more AC DC while your at it." Next morning he wakes up in a scandalous situation, looks around at the 5 wenches and 2 goats in his bed, and shouts, "My God we need to age that shit for prosperity".
I started to say Medieval Scottish kings were likely not importing much wine but some research proves this to be completely wrong. In fact in the 13th Century, Alexander III was importing huge (between 5K and 12K gallons a year) amounts of wine from France. Alexander III died in March 1246 after a night of heavy drinking, he insisted on traveling from Edinburgh to Fife to be with his new wife for her birthday. He fell from his horse over a cliff and died. Since he died without an heir, the English occupation of Scotland followed and the rise of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce ensued.

By the way, the 1400s would find the Stuarts (James I to James IV) ruling Scotland. All of them were either assassinated (James I) or killed in battle with either the English or other Scottish nobles.
 

Cynewulf

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A few years ago I went to a wine shop in Lyon, France looking for a bottle of wine from my son’s birth year that I could save 20+ years for his wedding someday in the future. I was looking at the Northern Rhônes both because I love them but also I assumed that the more substantial tannins would make for a longer aging wine. However, based on my goal the shop owner steered me to the Bourguignons and I ended up with a Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru from Domaine Henri Gouges. Still have a long ways to go before I’ll know whether it will hold up. I understood afterwards that acid plays a big role in ageability, though there are differing opinions on what is most important. Here is an excellent article that explores all the aspects typically associated with aging (acid, tannin, alcohol, sugar, technique, etc.), along with theories from various industry folks: Aging Wine: Facts & Feelings.

In general, I try to drink wines I buy within 5 years as I’ve had some sad experiences where a wine I knew was great at 2-3 years was a big disappointment at 6-7 years. I’ve also had some that needed a lot more time for either the acid or tannin to come into balance with the rest of the wine. One example was a Domaine Tempier Bandol, which Kermit Lynch raves about but I was drinking the 2011 in 2013 and it was all bound up tight. Good red Bandol clearly needs time, and I have a bottle of 2007 Domaine de Terrebrune that I hope to open in about 5 years.
 
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@Cynewulf, interesting article, as it highlights every comment made in this thread. My take is that wine longevity is highly complex and that I'll never bet anything I can't afford to lose on the outcome of a given wine.

I rarely let a commercial wine set in the rack for more than a year -- I typically plan to use 'em up within 6 months, as I've been bitten in the butt by holding wines too long. Certain wines from certain wineries I'll hold onto as I know them from experience, but normally if I want an older red for dinner, I snag a Rioja.

Good luck with your son's wine.
 

Rice_Guy

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The best answer above was #6 @winemaker81 ,,,, depends on what age.

* Early wine production was a way to utilize a food resource and provide calories. From a calorie point of view it works well, folks aren’t likely to get sick from it.
* From a historical point of view red wines could age reasonably well. Prior to sulphites white wines and fruit wines might be rated a short year, and as noted glass bottles help maintain quality for those who aren’t in the mood to drink a barrel. I have yet to see non sulphited low tannin wine hold up for twelve months, ,,, but again this is a modern point of view where we have an excess of calories in the western diet. If I was hungary my quality standards would become wider.
* Good Aged wine something learned. Red grapes have significant flavor changes from the fruit off the vineyard. Does that mean red grape is bad? well that depends. If targeting an eighteen year old, ,,, probably yes it is bad, but if targeting a forty year old they have learned to expect low fruity-ness. Ten year cheddar cheese is raved at. I don’t really like it so I guess I haven’t learned to appreciate the quality.
* Bad aged wine is something learned. Low levels of acetaldehyde don’t taste too bad. Gunk in the bottom of a bottle could be considered natural in 1800 or in todays filtered world could be a major defect. Likewise a browned color/ less fruity wine.
* There seems to be a correlation between tannin concentration (possibly total polyphenols) and acceptable quality. ex there are vintage traditionally produced ciders, not just grape products. Another example was my mom’s twenty year old black raspberry which was excellent when I was collecting her stuff. In contrast my black raspberry turns astringent at two years and I don’t have enough experience to look at ten or twenty years. (One theory is tannins form complexes that transition from flavorless to bitter to astringent to fall out of solution.) Specifically with tannic red grape when the tannin falls out of solution the flavor gets milder/ less acidic tasting so age can help.
*

From a food perspective my opinion is that wines do not improve with age. They will lose aromas/ fresh flavors and colors which the fresh crop had. Looking at it from an addictive point of view as long as the wine gives a buzz the quality is good or is it good enough. , , , but what is good?
 

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