You’ve probably heard people talk about “investing in wine”. We’re buying wine to drink it, not to sell it… so where is the return on investment?
The return on investment is not monetary, unless you sell your wine but that doesn’t make a lot of sense and that’s a “risky business”. OK, I’m done with the weird Tom Cruise innuendoes! Your return on investment is simply and purely a way to proudly open an aged bottle of wine and indulge in the new taste, because if everything works out like it should, this 15-year-old-wine will be nothing like it was when you bought it 15 years ago.
As you know, the winemaking process is complex, and I respect the art far too much to do this myself. It takes a few steps for the wine to become, well… wine:
• Clarifying (also called stabilizing)
• Aging (for some)
Some people call bottling the final step of winemaking… Well, not so fast! Wine will continue to evolve and change for years to come. As Steve said in one of his earlier posts, the wine keeps changing even after it’s been bottled: “If the wine does what it’s supposed to do, then the whole experience will be that much better. The tannins in the wine will be softer, the nose (or smell) will be bolder. This will be the perfect process of learning and understanding why “sitting on” certain wines can pay off for you in a big way.”
To take this concept even further, your wine will continue its mystical “metamorphosis” even after you pop the cork, and after it hits the glass! “The fact is that wine “opens up” after it comes into contact with the air. And by letting the wine “breathe” and “open up”, the softness and the flavors of the wine come out in the taste and in the smell. This enhances and maximizes the value of your wine experience. After all, you paid good money for the wine, so why not experience it with optimum conditions. Patience does pay off.”
And that is what we call “investing in wine”. Invest a little money and enough time, and the wine will make it up to you… guaranteed.
Here is what to expect from an aged wine:
• Softer tannins
• Bolder nose
• More noticeable fruit aromas (in some cases)
• Fuller, richer body
White wines tend to turn from a greenish hue in young wines to a yellowish caste/tone to a gold/amber color as they age. Reds usually possess a purple tone when young, turning to a deep red (Bordeaux wines) or a brick red color (Burgundy wines) – detectable at the surface edge in a wineglass as they age. Rosés should be pink with no tinge of yellow or orange.
So you may ask, how long should I keep a wine before drinking it? In reality a good deal of wine made in the world today should be drunk young. The “Beaujolais Nouveau” festival every year in France celebrates the new release of this fruity red wine and is consumed fervently because the good people of France know that this lively Gamay grape is best when drunk young. On the other hand, cellar aged red wines at their peak will show a deep golden-orange color as it thins at the surface edge. If the wine color has deepened into a distinctly brown-orange tint at the edge, it usually indicates a maderized wine, past its peak and declining. A good rule of thumb for aging Cabernet is about 8-13 years, Merlot is 6-9 years and Pinot Noir is 4-8 years. As you can imagine, the length of time to keep a wine depends on a lot of factors. One of the best wines I’ve ever had was a 63 year old Côtes-du-Rhône. Each wine is different and they all have their own stories. Ultimately, the best source to answer this question is the winery itself.
Related post on Wine Ponder: Learn how to store your wine at home for optimum and most adequate aging, and get your “return on investment”.