Each wine has a life span. Many peak in their youth and are ready to be enjoyed within a year of vintage, like a high school prom queen. Other wines need a little bit more time to smooth out and become less awkward, like the geeky kid in your algebra class, who surprises you 10 years later at high school reunion. Aged wines offer much more complexity as wine makers look for a balance of three components; bright fruit, acidity and tannin, which comes from the grape skins and oak aging. With high amounts of each in a balanced proportion a wine can age into a complex velvety beaut.

As time passes the fruit fades and tannins break down. In most cases if there is little fruit to begin with the wine will seem dull and less interesting. An aged wine will be recognizable by its coloring. As red wine matures the hues lighten into coppers and browns. While white wines become more dark and golden.

Last week at a tasting I tried 3 wines with vintage dates between 1999and 2002. Our host explained that these wines were on their way out and ready to drink now. As we tried three different varietals the structure of each was elegant and round, while the fruit was mellow, subtle and subdued.

For a bit of fun our host ended the tasting with a young fruity Malbec, which stood in stark contrast to the grandfathers in the first half of the tasting. The fruit was bright but the structure seemed more tannic and less smooth. One of the most exciting things about wine for me is how wine changes, from time on a shelf to an hour after opening it. Aged wines are great to explore to understand how wines evolve, peak, fade and die. Check out this Article from Into Wine to learn more about wine aging. http://www.intowine.com/aging-wines-which-age-well

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