Ever wonder about how long to cellar (age) a particular wine? I can only give general information here, so if you have a question about a specific wine, drop me a note and I will be happy to give you advice. But for now, I'll just speak in general terms.
Most white wines do not need to be cellared, as they are meant to be consumed immediately upon bottling. That does not mean that you can't keep some in stock. I try to rotate my stock about every two years. No, of course not all at once! When I'm in the mood for a white, I will select my oldest one from my chiller and replace it with one of the latest vintage. That way it keeps my stock fresh.
Remember, I said that I'm speaking in general terms. There are always exceptions and there are some white wines you can cellar for awhile without degrading the wine. Those would be some of the whites with a high brix or sugar content. For example most fortified wines like a Sauternes, brandy, port, sherry, or ice wine. Like I said, if you have a specific wine you have a question about, drop me a note.
Red wines are those that can benefit the most from cellaring. Not that you can't drink reds soon after purchasing. And if you don't have the space or the inkling to age wine, then don't. There is nothing wrong with consuming the wine without aging. It just may not be as smooth or mellow as it would be if it was cellared for awhile.
Why is that you ask? Well, simple answer is that most red wines have tannin, a natural occurring compound and astringent that is found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes. And since red wine gets its red color from having the juice in contact with the skins and in some cases the seeds and stems, as well, during fermentation, the tannins are transferred to our wine. Tannin is the compound that gives you a dry mouth feel or pucker. Without getting into a bunch of technical jargon, Tannin is helpful in digesting some foods. Thus, the reason Sommeliers recommend a nice Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany a good steak. Tannins are also a natural antioxidant and the reason we can age red wine.
The decision to cellar a red wine or not is entirely up to the individual and his or her particular taste. If you like your reds with a more rounded or mellow presentation, I recommend that you cellar the wine for 5 to 10 years before consumption. This allows the tannins to soften and lose some of the astringent mouth feel. It also can be beneficial in helping to bring out some of the other characteristics of the wine. As the French might say, aging wine releases the terroir's signature. It does allow the wine to mature and intensify its flavors.
I don't often recommend that you cellar red wines any longer that 20 years. Most of us do not have a wine cave available for us to lay up a bunch of wine. And after a time, wine will start to oxidize even if it has been kept in ideal conditions. Once it has turned to vinegar, the only thing you can do with your $100 bottle of wine is to cook with it.
This month's recommendation is one of the dry white wines that you don't have to cellar and is meant to be consumed upon bottling. It comes to us from the Sonoma Valley of California and a winery founded in 1876. It is a fresh and lively Sauvignon Blanc from Simi Winery. It will pair well with say a grilled chicken salad, seafood dishes in either a creamy or red sauce (not many wines make it work with both sauces), and even some Asian dishes.
So, the next time you're in the mood for a nice refreshing white wine with some citrus notes for under $20 a bottle pick up a Simi Sauvignon Blanc (click on the bottle image bellow for details about the wine). After you've given it a try, drop me a note by clicking here and let me know what you think. I always appreciate getting feedback on my recommendations.
Until next time, Cheers🍷