The fact that some wine can improve in the bottle over time is one of the most enduringly fascinating things about wine. All serious wine lovers come to the stage where they become fond of wines that have had significant bottle age. It is only with the proper and significant bottle age that the best wines start to display their layered complexity. What is significant? There is no strict definition, but I would say at least upwards of 10 years bottle age. Some good wines (e.g. Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux) may be at their peak at around 10 years of age, while others (e.g. first growth Grand Cru Bordeaux’s) will not be ready for upwards of 20-25 years. What makes one wine more ageworthy than another? That is the subject of this excellent article by Matt Kramer of Wine Spectator.
Matt uses very interesting and descriptive terminology – making the difference between wines that simply ‘endure’ over time and wines that ‘transform’. This article is a must-read for every serious wine lover. If you’re fortunate enough to be drinking good wines on a regular basis, think about the points in this article and try to make up your own mind about whether the wine you’re drinking has the potential to ‘transform’ with age.
A caveat for my fellow wine lovers in India: mature wines are hard (if not impossible) to find in India. There are numerous reasons for this and I will not go into them here. Good young ageworthy wines are available in India, but these tend to be wines from recent vintages and are usually drunk too young in India. You can overcome the lack of retail availability of mature wine in India by establishing your wine cellar. But you’ll need a good wine fridge and plenty of patience! Then you’ll need to go out and buy young bottles of ageworthy wine, and cellar these yourself till they are ready to drink. In the intervening years, the best you can do is to buy some mature bottles when you’re traveling abroad to places like London or New York!