The Aging Process
Some of the world’s best red wines are better at 10 years of age than they are when released. But regardless of grape variety, all red wines lose their fruit aroma in time.
Here is a brief guide to the aging of red wine:
* Cabernet: I age mine between 10 and 20 years, preferring them at 12 to 14. Bordeaux from great vintages age well for 10 to 30 years, but I like them typically no older than 15 years.
* Merlot: Only the very best California Merlots can make it 10 years without cracking up. I drink mine at 3 to 7 years of age.
* Zinfandel: With age, Zinfandels gain plummy, jammy notes. At about 10 years of age, they become more like older Cabernets. I like them at 6 to 9.
* Pinot Noir: This wine ages well for three to four years after the vintage, and in fact is best not consumed very young. But at 5 years from the vintage, the wine seems to reach an early peak.
* Sangiovese: In Italy, the very best can age for decades, and usually are still fairly hard and tart when less than 5 years old. I prefer them at 6 to 9.
* Nebbiolo: Among the longest-lived of wines, Barolo and Barbaresco become glorious in time. Age the best of them at least 10 years.