Photo by Sara Matthews
Bottles aging at Chateau Margaux. Wineries age their finished wines in bottles to allow the flavors to settle, harmonize and mature.
Bottling: Bottling is an automated process. The bottle is washed, dried and then filled with wine. Before the cork is inserted, a squirt of inert gas displaces the remaining oxygen that might cause the wine to spoil.
Bottle Aging: Immediately after bottling, wine frequently goes into a state of "bottle shock," where its aromas and flavors can seem very muted, or tight and unyielding. Recovery may take a few weeks or months, after which the wines are released for sale. The vast majority of wines produced are meant to be consumed shortly after release, when they are at their freshest. Only a very few wines benefit from additional bottle aging.
Gloria Maroti is director of education for Wine Spectator.