Wine consumers have always wondered whether their wines should be saved. The older a wine the better? What wines are worth saving? Can red wines be saved for a longer period than white wines?
There is a well known Spanish saying that relates wine quality directly with its age. This saying is applied to those people keeping a young look even as they grow older– “Albert just like the good wine is looking even better as time passes”. It was widely thought that a good wine was the one undergoing an ageing process in opposition to young wines thought to be of less quality. Nowadays, this premise has been disregarded thanks to the advances in enology.
We now know that each case should be analyzed keeping in mind its specific cycle of life. There is a first phase in which the wine undergoes an amazing improvement. In the second phase it reaches stability and therefore it is the perfect moment for its consumption. Finally it undergoes a decline and it will start losing its qualities.
According to the type of wine, its cycle will last a certain period of time. As a general rule we can establish the following criteria to save a wine before it loses its magnificence:
- Young wine: 2 years maximum
- Crianza wine: 6 years maximum
- Reserve wine: 10 years maximum
- Gran reserve wine: 15 years maximum
Although we should not apply a mathematical formula to wines, in general terms we can say that a wine with a high level of alcohol, total acidity and polyphenols can be a long-lived wine.
Speaking about white wines, the premise that the younger the wine the earlier we have to drink it is currently accepted. However, this does not mean there are no exceptions. A good example is the French Chablís (widely known as Chardonnay) or some of the Rieslings coming from the Rhin that can be saved up to 25 years in a perfect state.
If you have saved your wine for a long time following no criteria, I am afraid that the final result might be a surprise. It can either be a good wine or most probably a spoiled or a sour wine. In short, your little treasure might be turned into a few bottles with no value.
As we always say, the best we can do is ask an expert so that we do not go wrong and we can enjoy each wine at its perfect moment keeping all its qualities.