Definition - What does Aging mean?

Aging, with relation to wine, is the process of leaving a wine to evolve in the bottle after it has completed the fermentation and maturation process. Some wines, though not all, will improve with bottle aging. Whether it does depends on several factors including the varietal, winemaking style, region of origin and condition after bottling. Aging refers specifically to bottle aging, not barrel aging – which is considered “maturation” – though many people will use the two terms interchangeably. Aging allows wine to develop additional texture, taste and flavor, and is sometimes referred to as a process that generates secondary and tertiary aromas.

WineFrog explains Aging

Wine’s ability to age distinguishes it from other consumable goods. Wine is made up of complex chemicals that change composition as the wine ages. Everything from sugar content to phenolic compounds (like tannins) will affect the aging potential of a wine. In red wines, the higher the tannin content, the longer they will age; in white and sparkling wines, it is the acid levels that dictate the length of aging.

Aging a wine in the bottle causes a wine to evolve, not always for the better. The misconception is that a wine will always improve in the bottle. However, most winemakers will give the wine the necessarily aging time prior to shipping them to their consumers. Experts postulate that 90% of wines are meant to be consumed within a year of sale, and 99% are meant to be consumed within five years. In fact, 5 – 10% of wines improve after one year, while only a mere 1% of wines improve after five years.

When a wine is made to age in the bottle, it will develop a "bottle bouquet" as well as a more complete taste, aroma and softer mouthfeel. The color of an aged wine will also be deeper. Every wine and grape varietal has a different aging potential, so it’s best to consult the label or refer to a trusted online source to see how long you can cellar your wine.
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