Aging Red Wines
Cellaring your Twomey wines can reap great rewards. Although tempting to drink right away, Pinot Noir and Merlot bottlings can gain additional complexity and nuance with a few extra years of rest in the proper conditions.
When it comes time to open those special, well-rested bottles, a new world of wine pairing, decanting and cork extraction begins. As your bottle ages, corks become more brittle and the wine inside your bottle more delicate. This transformation from new release to library vintage exposes new flavors in your wine and exciting food pairing prospects.
To get into the nitty gritty of ageing red wines, on a chemical level, aging causes chemical reactions which in turn change how the wine looks, smells and tastes. Tannins, the phenolic compound known for that grippy, astringent feeling on your palate when you take a sip, start to bond together into long chains as they polymerize with color molecules or pigments. As those chains get longer, they aren’t able to bond with other compounds in the wine and will fall to the bottom of the bottle, forming sediment. Eventually, you may even be able to see this sediment with the naked eye. It will look like silt at the bottom of the bottle.
As you cellar your wine, you may see this sediment start to form. All is well. This is completely harmless, but many people chose to remove the sediment for aesthetic purposes before drinking.
When it comes to serving wines of different ages, decanting can be a great tool when used properly.
For young, vivacious wines, decanting can be a helpful tool to expose the wines to oxygen. Aerating at this stage will help round and soften youthful tannins and help open the bouquet. This is a wonderful option for newly released full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, but is often unnecessary for medium-bodied varietal bottlings, like Pinot Noir.
When it comes to decanting for age, the aim is much different. With younger wines, the goal is to expose the wine to oxygen. Older wines most often are not being decanted to soften, but instead to separate out sediment. This is a quick process, done moments before enjoying a glass as too much oxygen exposure can be detrimental to an aged wine.
Ideal storage conditions make all the difference when it comes to preserving the life of your bottle.
Stable temperature and humidity controlled environments are key to the longevity of great red wines. Ideally, bottles should be cellared in a dedicated wine refrigerator set to 50°-55° Fahrenheit. If this is not available to you, cold, dark environments like a well insulated closet typically do just the trick. Most important is to store your wine in a place with consistent temperatures and low to no sun exposure.
Each person’s personal preference window will be different and every type of wine ages differently. Many people prefer California Pinot Noirs in their first few years after release, some enjoy them for up to 15 years after release. Merlots can follow the same trajectory, with some people enjoying them for over 25 years.