The Wine Aging Process
Aging wine is an art. You have to understand several different parameters in order to ensure that you are aging your wine properly. Paramount is the fact that an unbalanced bottle of wine will not age well. Therefore, you must assess the overall balance of the wine before you decide to age it. The main reason you age wine is to improve the sensory profile, because the wine will gain complexity with age. But what exactly are the changes that occur in the bottle as your wine progresses to maturity?
The Evolution of Colour
The pigment molecules in wine are called ‘anthocyanins’. Anthocyanins begin their journey as blue and red coloured pigments. However, as the wine begins to age anthocyanins bind to acid and alcohol molecules within the wine. The binding causes the pigment to change to a dark red and brown colour. Eventually, these compounds get too large and precipitate out of the wine creating sediment.
There are a lot of molecules within wine that create aroma. However, during aging other aroma compounds can develop. The main aroma compounds that fluctuate during the aging process are called ‘esters’. Esters usually impart fruity characteristics in wine. However, during the aging process the wine will lose its fruit forward character. These changes depend on the overall acid and tannin levels within the wine, as well as the temperature and humidity levels the wine is subjected to.
Tannin molecules are the compounds that create astringency and body. As wine ages tannin molecules begin to bind to one another. Once the tannin molecules become really fat they precipitate out of the wine. Therefore, as the wine ages the tannin or astringency of the wine softens.
Acidity levels in wine will also mellow as the wine ages. Carboxylic acids will bind to alcohol compounds and form new esters. This will cause aroma changes within the wine. As acids precipitate out of the wine they will add to the sediment on the bottom of the bottle.
Aging wine is an exciting process. If you are interested in starting to age your own wine, and growing your wine collection please visit the Rosehill Wine Cellars website for more information on how we can help you with this process.