Aging Guidelines for Wine

Say you're new to wine, and you go into your local wine shop. You see a last-year Zinfandel, and you recognize the label as belonging to a winery everyone's raving about. You grab a bottle for your special dinner that night. At the table, you pop the cork, pour a glass, and promptly decide this is the most awful thing you've ever tasted. You find out the next day that the wine should have been 'laid down' for 5-8 years before it reached its peak. How would you know?

This chart should help wine lovers of all types quickly identify good ranges of age for a type of wine. It's just a guideline, of course. Every winery has different methods, and low-quality wines of a type (say Pinot Noir) won't last nearly as long as high quality wines of the exact same type. Also, wines from good years last much longer than wines from poor years.

Also, keep in mind that part of what helps a wine age is the Sulfites in it. Sulfites are natural preservatives found on all grapes. If you buy a low-sulfite wine, it will tend not to last for very long.

Given those factors, this chart will help give you a general impression about wine types. It should help you determine if you grab a current bottle off the shelf at the wine store, is this a wine you should drink tonight or ten years from now.

Wine Type

Aging Suggestion

Beaujolais 0-3 years
Beaujolais Nouveau immediately!
Bordeaux, Red 7-12 years
Bordeaux, White 4-10 years
Cabernet Sauvignon 5-10 years
Champagne, non-Vintage 0-2 years
Champagne, Vintage 5-10 years
Chianti 0-5 years
Chardonnay 0-5 years
Merlot 2-5 years
Gewurztraminer 0-4 years
Port, non-vintage, tawny, etc. 0-5 years
Port, Vintage 10-20 years
far more for some
Rioja 5-10 years
Vouvray 0-5 years
Zinfandel, Red 5-10 years
Zinfandel, White 0-1 years

Learn how Wines Age

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.