Aging of wine

Aging of wine

While most of the white wines are suitable for consumption within a two or three years after harvesting the grape, many red wines preserve their qualities – and even improve them – with age.

Why do red wines improve their quality with age?

Everything depends on the tannins. The tannins are the astringent and bitter group of substances, which are found in the seeds and in the skin of the grape. In addition to the fact that these substances transfer a pleasant tartness to wine, tannins provide for a higher aging potential of the wine by slowing down oxidation.

The extraction of tanning is an important stage of making red wine. Unlike the must for white wines, which is pressed out from grape before fermentation, red wine is left to ferment inside the skin, even with whole intact berries. Winemakers monitor tannin extraction during fermentation by manipulating the grape skins.

Tannins are bitter in a young wine. With time, tannin compounds react and together with pigment molecules form long polymer chains. When these polymers become long enough, they settle, thus making wine more pleasantly astringent rather than bitter. This process starts during infusion and fermentation and continues after the wine is bottled.

Wine is much less exposed to oxygen when bottled. This slows down transformations. While the various components, related to the taste of wine, interact among themselves and with the substances acquired from the oak during fermentation and aging in barrels, and while tannins and pigments continue to link, with time the wine changes its colour from purple to brick-red and develops various tastes and aromas.

The cork closing the bottle is of a major importance fro the quality aging of wine. That is why wines with a potential for aging are always bottled with corks of established quality.

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