In the interest of wine exploration a lot of wine aficionados never commit themselves to the cause of a mature, complex wine. That could be for any number of reasons, perhaps including the following:
a) They only invest in single bottles and drink them within a short time of purchase… or perhaps because b) they only prefer young, fruit forward wines or c) they simply have never been exposed to a mature wine.
And often when a novice wine drinker is served an older wine, they do not know what to make of it: here is something which does not at all resemble the wines they normally would enjoy…where are the heavily extracted fruit flavours, where is the sweetness and where is the fullness of weight that the new wine drinker is used to? Regardless of personal taste, it is important to try the same wine in its different stages, just to get an understanding of the aging process.
If the reader is seriously interested in wine and what happens to it as it ages, it is crucial that more then single bottles are acquired … a minimum purchase of three, better six bottles is recommended. When one consumes a single bottle, it is a snapshot into the life of that liquid…if you are consuming a bottle of red wine it in it’s infancy it will be full of fruit, vibrant and maybe a little unyielding; in its’ middle age the primary fruit will start to fade but there will now be very delicious secondary flavours, which complete the wine: there might also be a little tannin left which adds a little crunch to the finish, some structure which holds the fruit in place. An older wine will be mellow, harmonious and soft; there are no tannins left, the fruit is a mélange of secondary flavours sometimes difficult to pinpoint. The colour will have faded from a purple as a youngster to a lighter shade of red as a senior, maybe even showing some signs of transparency.
It should be noted though, that every wine needs to be drunk, and that it will not necessarily get better and better as it proceeds through old age. This is an evolution that is different from wine to wine: the aging process takes two years for an Italian Pinot Grigio and it takes 50 years for a Vintage Port wine from Portugal. For other wines it could be anything in between.
It is important to aid this aging process by providing decent storage conditions, i.e. the kitchen cupboard on top of the stove will not do. To outline the above in any amount of detail would take another column, however it can be said in short that less then ideal circumstances will age the wines in question at a faster rate, so in fact one is turbo charging the maturation process…which is fine as long as the bottles are consumed sooner rather then later. It is also widely accepted that severe temperature fluctuations are worse for a wine then a constant, be it warmer then ideal temperature.
The other possible shortfall in the possibility of obtaining enough mature wines at a reasonable price (one can always buy mature vintages, at a much higher cost) is of course that the consumption rate is too high.
The solution to this problem is that the wine drinker buys three categories of wines:
A. The Tuesday night wines are the inexpensive wines which are brought out for informal meals, early in the week. These are wines which could be bought as cases and in fact act as your “house wines”. This is also the wine category which is in play when large groups of friends assemble at your domicile for social purposes.
B. The Friday night wines are a category up and are more special wines which are pulled out on the weekend: here a 3 to 6 bottle purchase is probably worthwhile. These mid priced bottles will age nicely in a cool environment, and this is the price range that provides the best value wines.
C. The Sunday night wines are up another level, and in fact are special occasion wines. These hopefully could still be purchased in 2 or 3 bottle lots. These are wines which are consumed on birthdays, anniversaries and other significant dates with special reverence.
The wine drinker should not consume the Friday night wines on Tuesday night and the Sunday night wines on Friday night.
A bit of ironclad resolution is needed to accomplish the above but the readers’ wine collection is destined to grow and with that the number of more mature bottles.