I came across the image below at Sticks Winery’s website and thought it was quite useful at illustrating the differences in the production of white and red wine. The image will also hopefully show why red wine tend to have more complex flavours from the production of the wine rather than just the fruit used as is often the case with white wines which are made to be consumed within a few years of production.
It shows you a very simplistic and averaged timeline of red and white wine production. It is a much more complex method for red wine which receives time both in barrels of oak as well as time fermenting in its skins which results in tannins being present in the wine. Tannins help to preserve the wine so that it will last longer as well as giving the wine more depth and texture on the palate. Tannins in red wine needs time to age for the tannins to soften and balance in with the other flavours of the wine. Red wine can age three different ways:
1. The winery does not release the wine for a few years due to processing, ageing and cellaring of it on premise.
2. The wine is released by the winery once processing is complete and will receive the chance to age in your home or cellar.
3. The wine sits on the shelf in the bottle shop for a few years and ages there.
For your wallet options two and sometimes three are better for you. For those who do not own a cellar or a wine fridge, which allows the wines a safe and stable environment to age in then option, one begins to have merit, at a cost but also comes with potentially instant enjoyment of the wine.
When I discuss red wine’s I do not mean all red wines need to have 10 years in the cellar, or any broad sweeting statements like that but even a simple Wolfblass Eaglehawke/Red Label or Jacobs Creek bottle of red wine would do so much better if it had the chance to get a few years to mature in the bottle.
Some wines that you see on the shelves in bottle shops which belong to the common everyday drinking ranges will often have 2012 vintages appearing on shelves now for their reds, these wine’s are not designed to be aged for too long, their market is to be drunk in the near future (think no more than 5 years) and the volume of sales that occur for those brands and their cheaper lines imply that generally these wine’s will be luck to see a full year in the bottle.
Another way to overcome the lack of age for a bottle of wine is to decant it. I plan to have a post up in the near future on the different methods of decanting you wines. Even when a wine has been in the bottle for over 5 years decanting it still does so much for the overall bouquet, texture and taste of the wine by allowing the wine to breathe and oxidise much more rapidly than what it could while still in the bottle.
Until next time.