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November 13, 2019

Wine Wednesday: Youth and Maturity

Post by South Lyndale Liqours

by Daniel (wine specialist)

With wine as with people a youthful one offers something a mature one does not. Conversely a mature wine does the same. The idea the ‘old’ wine is better often has little to do with flavor and more to do with status. ‘Vintage’ is a tag we ascribe to quality. Well, most all wines are vintage wines as vintage denotes a harvest year.

Semantics aside the conversation should center around what we like in a wine. 95% of wines are meant to be consumed in their youth. Most wines are not made to “lie down”. They will not “get better with age”. And to get better with age needs to be defined. So let's talk briefly about youth and maturity in wine.

Youth in wine

A wine made for everyday consumption should have varietal typicity - should taste like the grape it claims to be made from. Or typicity of place. Does my Cotes du Rhone taste like a Cotes du Rhone? It should be well in balance and will generally lean toward quaffable or more substantial-something for a meal.

These wines will have moderate acid and grippy but kind tannin. Oh! And they should be bursting with energy! With age they may get softer but most likely won’t develop into anything terribly interesting.

Youthful red & whites

Below are some example of youthful reds and whites that we carry in the store. What questions do you have about these particular wines?

Youth in white winesYouthful red wines

Maturity in wine

And that is exactly what we are looking for, something interesting. Or at least an interest in the wine. A mature wine, when captured at its peak can be an otherworldly experience. Especially so if you tasted that same wine in its youth. A wine made to rest will, in its youth, be closed and tannic with sometimes screaming acidity or what seems to be out-of-place oak. All the components will be there but they will all be too loud or too quiet. Time and oxygen are necessary.

Enjoying youth and maturity? For more reading, check out this article on Balance in Wine.

Time is key

With time and a slow transfer of oxygen the wine will transform. The tannins will become silken. This is impossible to accomplish in a young wine. The primary fruit notes of the wine will also transform. They will still exist but be enrobed in tertiary notes like mushroom, cigar box, spice rack and more. It’s really hard to say what a wine will become and it’s really hard to say when the best time to drink a wine is if you so choose to rest one. It’s also impossible to know if the wine will age gracefully. Will the fruit drop out? Will the acid disappear? There is a terrible amount of bottle variation in a mature wine as well. As wines mature they get finicky. Burgundy is notorious for this. For some, this is the excitement, catching the wine at the right time.

Mature red & whites

Below are some example of mature reds and whites that we carry in the store. What questions do you have about these particular wines?

Maturity in wineMaturity in wine

The magic of age

Then there is sitting on a wine and catching it on the down slope. Personally, I’d rather drink a wine before it’s prime than after. Tired wines are lazy and boring. To be clear, mature wines aren’t for everyone. It’s a good idea to taste one, just for an idea of how a wine changes. The flavors are so different from a wine in it’s youth; they are not really comparable. Apples to oranges I guess. Rather apples to applesauce, or apple pie or apple crisp.

That’s the magic of age. And that's youth and maturity in wine.

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