Because there are so many types of red wine, types of grapes, storage conditions, personal preferences and production methods for red wine, it can be hard to know how long to age it for. Wines tend to lose fruitiness and gain complexity as they get older and tannins become softer and milder too.
Top Tips for How Long You Should Age Red Wine
When a red wine reaches its maturity it will stay like that for a while and then slowly start to deteriorate, so it is possible to over-age your wine. More expensive wines usually benefit from aging and cheaper ones do not.
There are some rules to bear in mind if you want to know how long to age red wines. For example, Merlots need less time to reach maturity than Cabernet Sauvignons. More than ninety percent of red wines are designed to be enjoyed within two years of production.
Guidelines for Different Red Wine Types
Bear in mind the following guidelines are based on the true value of the bottle. Cheaper wines tend not to age so well.
The prices refer to the actual value of the wine so always buy from a reputable wine dealer, not someone who will inflate the price of a cheaper wine.
- Cabernet Sauvignon costing less than $12 can be stored for up to a year. If you pay up to $25, you can keep the wine for five or six years. Investing in a Cabernet Sauvignon which costs more than $25 means you can store it for up to fifteen years. Some very special ones will keep for even longer.
- Merlot is similar in some ways to Cabernet Sauvignon but ages more quickly. Anything costing between $12 and $25 will keep for three or four years and if you paid more than $25 keep it for about ten years for the best results. A Shiraz, or Syrah, can be aged for about four years if you paid $15 to $25 for it or ten years if you paid more.
- Pinot Noir becomes more complex and less fruity as it ages but not everybody will like the change in flavor. It might also go through phases when aging when the flavors and aromas seem to disappear for months and then come back. Pinot Noir costing under $15 a bottle should be consumed within a year.
If it was between $15 and $25, age it for three or four years if you want to swap the fruitiness for complexity, or drink it as it is without aging it if the fruitiness is preferable for you. Anything costing more than $25 will benefit from five to eight years in your home wine cellar.
What About White Wine?
Popular white wines include Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Reisling.
- Most Chardonnays are meant for immediate consumption, although something costing more than $12 can benefit from four or five years storage in your wine cellar.
- Chenin Blanc is acidic which means it can age well but often does not. Drink a $12 or less Chenin Blanc within three years and a $12 to $25 bottle within five years.
- Rieslings age well. Drink anything up to $12 within three years. If you paid $12 to $25, you can keep it for six to eight years. Top quality dry Rieslings can fetch more than $25 and these can be stored for twenty to thirty years.