No Green Bananas

No Green Bananas

The Importance of Aging Red Wine

Most casual wine drinkers have probably not enjoyed a properly aged bottle of bold red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux. For some wines it takes ten, twenty or even more years before the wines are mature enough to drink. Drinking a bottle of red wine before it is ready is akin to eating a green banana. When we go to the supermarket to buy bananas and only green ones are available, we know after we bring them home they will need a few days to ripen and become tasty. Most bold red wines are “green” when first purchased, yet most people consume them right away even though they are not ready.

So why do we need to age bold red wines?

Through the grape and the wine-making process, bold red wines such as Cabernet contain a high amount of tannins. Tannins have a bitter after taste which also solicits the pucker sensation in the mouth and back of the throat, not unlike the sensation when eating a green banana. When wine is aged in a properly climate-controlled cellar of 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the tannins progressively break down or “soften.” However, too much aging is also not a good thing because the desirable flavors such as fruits also decrease with age. So wine aging is a delicate balance between softening the impacts of tannins while maintaining the core desirable flavors of the wine. When a particular vintage is said to be good, the wine is suitable for longer cellaring because the wine flavors are more intense and can bear a longer cellaring period.

The best vintages can be cellared ten, twenty, or even longer periods and maintain their core desirable flavors while diminishing the impacts of tannins to almost none. I highly recommend every wine drinker to find a way to taste a properly aged bottle of red wine. The difference is dramatic.