Only 1% of all the wine made in the world is meant for serious ageing, which means 99% is meant to be consumed sooner than later! As a general rule, everyday red wines will last up to 5 years and everyday whites and rosés will last between 2 and 3 years. Screwcaps have changed these guidelines considerably, adding a few more years to the timeline.
In order to determine which red wines are suitable for extended ageing you must look at 4 main traits: Colour, Tannin, Acidity and Alcohol. The colour should be vibrant - if it is already looking dull and brickish at the start, it likely won’t last for an extended period. The colour tends to often coincide with the concentration of the fruit flavours, which needs to be high to begin with in order to dissipate with age. Tannins help preserve freshness in wine, so typically (although not always) wines with higher tannins will age better. Acidity is something that wasn’t considered in ageability for a long time, however acidity helps preserve the wine as much as tannins do. Wines with higher acidity generally age better. Wines with alcohol levels between 12-13.5% abv are generally considered more ageable than those with 14.5-15%. The exception comes with fortified wines, the best of which can age for a decade or more.
For white wines you must look at 3 main traits: Colour, Acidity and Sweetness. Because white wines darken through oxidation, most age-worthy whites are nearly clear at the beginning. Because white wines don’t have tannins to preserve the freshness of the wine, higher acidity is key. Sugar can act as a preservative above certain levels, which explains why Icewines can often age for over 10 years.
If you have questions about any Stag's Hollow Wines that you have hiding in your cellar, please reach out to us; we're happy to provide some guidance.