How do you know when you should hold a wine for a long time, and when you should just drink it?
This by no means is an exact science, but there are some handy tips to help you decide.
At IntoWine.com, they break down the types of wines that generally age well, and those that don't.
Rittmaster has some suggestions. “White wines like German Riesling, French Vouvray, and Australian Semillon can age effortlessly for decades if they are in balance at the beginning,” he says.
Cabernet Sauvignons can be kept for two years and beyond, depending on the vintage and where they wine came from. Those from Bordeaux in France, Coonawarra in Australia, and even some from California’s Napa Valley do age well...
Wines that do not benefit from aging are Merlot, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Since there are many different styles of Chardonnay, treat each one as if it were a different varietal. All of these wines, in general, should be consumed young or only stored for under five years.
So now that you have an idea of which types of wine are good to hold and which to drink, this is still a little too much of a generalization. Next, you can break it down further by region and year.
Wine Spectator publishes a new vintage chart each year to help consumers make the call to hold or to drink. This chart lays it out by region (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, US) as well as by year. They even have a handy pocket-sized Wallet Chart to print and keep with you.
Another yearly vintage chart is published by Robert Parker (aka Wine Advocate). I recommend you check out both charts, because they sometimes can be very different in their recommendations. Since there are many subjective factors that go into these recommendations, it's worth seeing what different authorities think. A warning though, the Robert Parker vintage chart is a little harder to read, but also provides more guidance than Wine Spectator's "Drink" or "Hold."
Sometimes it's a hard decision, but hopefully the resources above, as well as your own research, will help make it a little easier.
The next post on wine will take on the actual aging process. Once you've picked your wines you want to age, how do you do it? We'll go through a brief overview of the why's and how's of aging wine.