Aging your wine — or not
“I’ve just ordered wine. Can I drink it right away?”
Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. Some wines are ready to drink, but some will greatly benefit from spending a little time in the cellar — or a long time.
How do you know if your wine is ready to drink?
Here is a little cheat-sheet!
|Ermitage||5-40+ years||3-25 years|
|Saint Joseph||4-5 years||2 years|
|Villages||3-5 years||3-8 years|
|Cru||5-12 years||3-8 years|
|Villages||2-5 years||2-5 years|
|Cru||4-10 years||4-10 years|
|Corton Premier Cru||7-15 years|
|Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru||5-20 years|
|Saint Joseph||Villages||3-10 years|
Champagnes are all ready-to-drink now.
Note: the aging clock starts ticking from the wine’s vintage year — the year the grapes were harvested.
A 2009 wine that requires 5 years of aging is ready to drink in 2014 (now). If it requires 10 years of aging, you should cellar it for another 5 years.
Most wines are released a year or two after the harvest (but see exceptions below). This means that they already have one or two years of aging by the time you purchase them. For early-drinking wines (1-3 years aging window), this basically means “drink upon purchase”.
Vintage Champagnes are aged for many years at the producer’s cellar before release; Beaujolais Nouveaux are released a mere 3 months after harvest. Both are ready to drink upon release.