If you’re not exactly a wine connoisseur then you may have heard the phrase ‘it gets better with age’, and you might know the topic, but do you know the ‘why’? Why is a twenty year old bottle of wine more preferable than a five year old bottle? It can definitely be confusing as most products become worse with age, but wine just keeps getting better. Let’s take a detailed look at how wine not only grows older, but also wiser.
Understanding the Aging Process
When you look at a bottle of wine you might not see much. Just as with any other beverage you see the bottle and you see what’s inside, but if you could look at it on a microscopic level you’d see something entirely different. While science has not quite figured out all of the mysteries of this ancient drink, there are a few things that we can discern.
Tannins – The Vital Component
Tannins have been determined to be one of the most important parts of wine aging, and thy are produced from grapes. They can be found in the grape stem, the skins, and of course, the seeds. It has been concluded that tannins are a defensive mechanism for the grapes which keep unripe fruit from being edible (at least on a taste factor) until such time as it ready to be consumed. While the Tannins are active they will cause grapes to taste chalky and ashen, leaving your mouth a bit dry – much the same as eating an unripe banana.
Now here’s the interesting part: oxygen helps to break down the Tannins, but it must be done in the right quantity. Too much oxygen too quickly will cause the wine to break down too quickly and it will spoil. In the wine there are acids, which serve as preservatives and will defend against rapid oxidation. This gives Tannins time to neutralize oxygen molecules and change the taste of the wine over time. As the taste changes it will be less chalky, and will cause to bind with your salivary proteins. In the end, it will taste much better, and the longer it is allowed to sit, the better it will taste.
We have only scratched the surface of wine aging of course and there are more than likely quite a few more things to discover. Scientists will continue breaking down the reason for which wine tastes better with aging and it will surely be interesting, but for right now, we will simply enjoy our drinks, aged to perfect, amazing in both scent and taste.[Image Credit]