If a wine is good when it's young, can it still age well?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

I've noticed a trend toward making wines in a more approachable-when-young style. If a wine is good when it's young, will it still be good in 10 years?

Mike, Connecticut

Dear Mike,

Wine cellars aren't hospitals. If a wine is unbalanced in its youth, it’s not going to magically fix itself with time in the cellar. Tannins might “soften” over time, but if you don't like a tannic wine when it's young, you probably won't like it any better when it's old.

You are correct that there has been a shift to wines being much more approachable on release. There are more people drinking more wine at more moments (and with more types of foods) now than ever before. Fine wines aren’t just a luxury item anymore, requiring storage in optimal conditions before its ready to enjoy.

That said, I think most wine lovers will agree—as the ancient Greeks and Romans discovered many years ago—that when a wine has the potential to age, and when it is well-aged, it can be magnificent. Aging doesn’t make a wine better or worse, but it changes it. I always worry that people will unnecessarily age their wines without understanding how they might evolve—fruit flavors will fade and secondary notes of earth and spice will become dominant.

I think that winemakers have a lot more information at their disposal about how to make the wines they are aiming to make, and can track tannins, anthocyanins, acidity, pH and phenolics—all the components that will be affected by aging. With all of this data and better understanding of the impact of their decisions, I think it’s realistic that wines that are made and delicious now will also age into terrific wines in the future.

—Dr. Vinny

Collecting Aging Wine Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

If a cork gets pushed into a wine bottle, is the wine ruined?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny puts a reader's fears to rest and offers tips for how to …

May 24, 2019

How do you clean wineglasses to a spot-free, clear shine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for cleaning fine stemware.

May 22, 2019

What does the word “unctuous” mean in a wine tasting note?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the term "unctuous," typically ascribed to …

May 20, 2019

Are collectible wines still collectible after the wine has gone bad?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny talks to Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago about 50-year-old …

May 17, 2019

Why aren't bottles stored on their sides at wine stores?

Wine's Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine bottles need to be stored on their …

May 15, 2019

Is there a polite way to tell a winemaker that I'm not enjoying their wines?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny suggests a few etiquette tips for kindly declining an …

May 13, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search