WSET Bitesize – Why do you age wine?

Hi everybody good morning good afternoon Good evening welcome to this webinar Do let us know in the chat where you're Dialing in from Welcome So as the numbers are creeping up I Think I'll I'll start to introduce Myself Um Looks like we've got oh we're already Coming dialing in from Belgium Geneva us Okay this is great Um I'm in uh London at the moment hi Everyone my name is Anjali Um I am an educator at the WSET School In London Um so the wct it stands for the wine and Spirit education trust Um and it's the world's leading provider Of qualifications in wine spirits and Saki Um this webinar why do you age whine is Gonna is being recorded um and it's Going to be available on the WSET Global Events Hub on YouTube so um you can Watch it back again at your leisure Um A little tiny bit of housekeeping if you Do have any questions Um I will check the Q a box at the end Of the uh webinar it should take about 20 minutes or so 25 Um and then I'll come to some questions So do write them in the Q a box if you

Have any Um so aging wine Um I've been tasked with kind of Thinking about this for the last few Weeks um in preparation for this webinar And I think the first thing to kind of Get out the way especially if you watch My orange wine webinar is to um get some Myths out of the way and and bust some Myths before we get into the the real Nuts and bolts and the real question Um so A few myths to kind of consider that Hopefully I will bust as we go through The rest of this webinar Um firstly The all wines are age worthy Um a really common myth I think uh that All wines that you buy are capable of Aging and by that I mean capable of Improving with age and so that's myth Number one myth number two maybe you're Not so you're a little bit skeptical of That but maybe you think actually red Wines those are the ones that are Suitable for aging Um hopefully I'll seek to to bust that Myth as well and finally Um the Aged wines are just better or Taste better than young wines another Myth there for you Um that hopefully over the rest of this Webinar Um we'll I'll seek to change some of

Your minds about these if you if you Come in thinking any of these three Um things about aged wine Um So as I've been thinking about this Subject Um I have divided up the kind of key Umbrella reasons for aging wine into Three Um and though span really the chemical So by that I mean what's going on kind Of chemically in the bottle that might Be a reason that we want to age our wine How is that wine changing chemically Um some other reasons as well you might Want to be aging a wine for financial Reasons you might want to be seeking to Make some money out of your wine Um and age that wine to do so and Finally a kind of bracket of more Nebulous reasons you might want to age One which I've called the philosophical But reasons that don't aren't Necessarily connected to exactly how That wine is going to taste Um or profit that you may or might may Not make on the wine something a little Bit kind of broader and a little bit More Uh well philosophical than that let's Say Um so I'm going to dig into each of These three reasons and then we're going To have a look at a few kind of case

Studies of specific wines that have been Aged in different ways Um and maybe a good jumping off point or A starting point if you want if you're Interested in tasting wines that have Been aged so we'll start with the Chemical Um so one reason for Um aging a wine is that the Aromas in The wine are going to change over time As is the structure of that wine Um and this is an incredibly complex Subject but broadly as another kind of Jumping off point Firstly we're going to lose some Aromas Over time those Aromas particularly are Going to be the fruitier Aromas the more Floral Aromas Examples of this are Aromas like Um Rose And Aromas like banana Um these are two specific Aromas that Will become completely flavorless over Time So it may be then that if you are Um enjoying a wine that's particularly Delicate through to your floral it may Not be a wine that is best suited to Aging as those Aromas are going to be Lost over time But we'll also gain some Aroma too Um and this is really due to the uh Interaction between the wine and Tiny Levels of oxygen that are going to get

Into the wine over time and during this Process lots of different Aromas develop Including Aromas that we've got here on The slide so things like caramel walnuts Lots of other kind of nutty Aromas Things like almond marzipan So you may be gaining as well some Aromas In terms of the structure of our wine Now this is really Um key aspect to why some people may Want to age wine particularly when it Comes to Reds Bitter mouth drying tannin that exists In red wine Is going to become softer and smoother Over time So if you are looking to age a wine you May want to start with a wine that's Already quite high in those tannins with The idea that by the time you come to Open it in a few years time those Tannins will be softer and smoother to Taste Whites as well will change their Structure so they they might develop a Kind of waxy or oily slightly more kind Of viscous texture Finally The idea behind aging one I think can be A little bit of a myth in and of itself In terms of what you might expect to Taste Wines don't generally become more

Powerful over time in fact they become Much less powerful more delicate Um and also more savory So that's the chemical we have a look at The financial so some people might may Seek to age their wine for financial Reasons I.E really making a profit so The idea here is that you're going to Buy a wine with the intention of Aging It in some way yourself and selling it On later for a profit The idea behind that is that as time Goes on More and more of these bottles are going To get opened which means the Availability of them is going to be Decree is going to decrease they're Going to become more rare in general and That's going to cause the price to rise At least in the theory this is Definitely an area that you've got to be Very careful of Um a couple of reasons Um firstly When it comes to the the subject of wine There are countless substitutes Um examples for various wines and wine Styles so just because the particular Wine that you have may no longer be Available there is very likely going to Be an awful lot of other substitute Wines available so this um idea is not Going to work with the vast vast Majority of wines

In order for this to be in with a chance Of working these wines need to be Generally Ultra Premium Um iconic wines of outstanding quality That are known to have a wide consensus That they age very well Um Um but even if you do that there's still A level of care you need to take because Over time tastes change Um so the demand for that wine maybe When you bought it was incredibly high But as you come to then sell it in a few Years time there may not be that Demand Anymore maybe people will have moved on Maybe there are other styles that are More interesting uh to people so it's a Little bit of a tricky one but certainly It's done particularly with those iconic And super premium styles And then finally the philosophical so I've put here wine as time travel this Is one way to kind of think about it Because I think One of the reasons why wine becomes so Um interesting and such a Fascination to So many people is not only that it has An ability to transmit a sense of place So when you're tasting a wine from Provence for example you can almost kind Of taste that Sunshine of being in the South of France Um for example if you're tasting a wine From Aetna in Sicily you can almost feel

Like you're tasting the kind of the area Of the The Volcano or something like That there's often this kind of Connection we have between tasting wine And that sense of place being Transmitted in the bottle but not only That When you're tasting aged wines You are also transmitting a sense of Time Especially if years have then gone on And those years are particularly uh Important or noteworthy to you And this is because really most wines Are a vintage product most wines have The year stipulated on the label And that means that the grapes used to Make most wines are harvested across one Growing season over one year Um And so tasting wines that were made in These key years either personally to you So Um birth years anniversaries Um key kind of age Milestones Um or in history Um can be very special so The um the one that I'm thinking about At the moment is is wines made in 2020 Um a really important year for so many People because we had a pandemic and I I Have a feeling that those wines are Going to end up being quite collectible In years to come that as the years go on

When we open those wines we will kind of Bring out those memories of what that Was like what our 2020 was like what our 2020 was experienced but that goes for All sorts of other key years either Personally or historically Um and so it means that when it comes to Tasting aged wine sometimes it's not Important how much money they were worth It's not important exactly and Specifically how they taste are you Tasting that Um almond or that Walnut Those things are secondary to the fact That it's just an experience in and of Itself to taste something Taste of wine That has is transmitting you almost back In time So these are the my three kind of key Umbrella reasons for why people might Age a wine Um but how do we do it So there are three key ways that you Might want to age one or you might be Able to age one parsley quite commonly Um aging our wine in an oak barrel or an Oat vessel This is going to be done at the winery Before the wine is then packaged uh Generally in a bottle So he might do that We might decide to age our wine in Another vessel so here we've got some Images of some amphoras

But there are other options to cement Tanks Um the last demijohn Vats there are Other vessels that we can use to store Our wine in to allow it to mature over Time before we then go to package it Both Oak barrels and other vessels used For maturation this is going to be done At the winery before then being packaged For the consumer to then buy Our third way to age a wine can be done Either at home yourself or at the winery So this is Aging in bottle And As long as you've got the right Conditions to do it it's something That's definitely worth trying at home Um which we'll look into those perfect Conditions shortly But the winery may also be choosing to Do this well keeping their wines back Before releasing them onto the market in The bottle that they're going to be sold In All of these things Will attach an additional cost onto your Wine unless you're doing it yourself so If the winery is choosing to age the Wine in Oak before they release the wine Or another vessel or age the wine in Bottle before they release that's not Only going to take time which is going To cost money but it's also going to Take up a lot of space to have all of

These Vats or rows of bottles being Stored over time so it means generally That when we are tasting or buying aged Wines if the winery's been responsible For that agent we are going to be paying A premium for that Foreign Now this is just a start really this is Just kind of scratching the surface on Methods you might want to think about if You're aging why I'm going to dive in Now to a few specific styles of wine That are aged in quite specific ways And hopefully this will act as a way That you can kind of start thinking About the real complexity and diversity That's around when it comes to aging White I should say as well that these options Are can be a a choice for a producer to Age an oak or M4 or a bottle before Release they can choose to do that but Some producers maybe legally required to Do that before they release their wine Um because the style that is achieved Over this maturation period is going to Be intrinsic to the wine itself so some Producers may be required to do these Take these steps I'm going to start with my first case Study Which is champagne you can see this nice Image here of a kind of dark champagne Seller with some wines in riddling racks

These um wooden A-frames And Foreign the rules and restrictions Surrounding champagne when it comes to Aging are pretty specific so firstly Champagne must be aged in the bottle Which is later going to be sold in Um which makes it quite special in of Itself I think that the wine that you're Picking up from the shelf that bottle All of these processes have taken place In that very bottle A lot of Champagnes are non-vintage Products and that means they come from a Blend of different years you might see The word NV written on the label And if that's the case by law this wine Must have gone through 15 months of Aging Of which 12 must be in contact with the Leaves now if you haven't heard of this Word leaves these are dead yeast cells That we use for two purposes when we Make champagne firstly these this yeast Will give us our Sparkle in our Sparkling wine they'll give us our Bubbles they will produce CO2 in the Bottle So that's one job that Lee's is doing For us the second job is when that yeast Dies and becomes this um sediment We're going to use that we're going to Keep our wine in contact with that yeast And allow that yeast to impart Aromas

And flavors So the longer we do that the longer we Keep that wine and bottle in contact With this dead yeast the more Aromas That indicate that period of maturation Are going to develop so for non-vintage Products we've got 12 months at a Minimum that the wine must be left in Contact for vintage products so these Wines will display a particular year That's going to have need to taken place For at least at least three years And so the Aromas we can expect to Develop over this period of time include Bread pastry brioche toast kind of Biscuity Aroma and really can make up a Huge part of the signature of Champagnes This crucial aging period now the Requirement for for example non-vintage Is 12 months in contact with this Studies but the reality is many Producers will allow their wine to be in Contact with their studies for much much Longer than that So definitely a wine to taste if you're Looking to taste these bready pastry Aromas derived from a prolonged period Of time with this wine in contact with This dead yeast So that's my first example of one way That a wine is going to show Um some evidence of of time Um my second is a wine called van Zone And you have noticed that both these

Wines both champagne van Zone they are Both white wines so hopefully I'm I'm Busting that myth that only red wines Are capable of Aging uh certainly lots Of Champagnes are capable of it and Display lots of those Savory Aromas as Well as these ready Aromas and Van Jones From the Jura in France is another good Example of a wine that signature really Comes with age and comes with time Um so the barrels used uh for Van Jones That our wine is stored in are aged Under a thin layer of yeast now this Yeast unlike our champagne yeast giving Us that brioche bready Aroma is alive so We'll live on top of the surface of the Barrel Um and it's called Laval so this kind of Blanket of yeast will start to live on The surface of the barrel and these Wines need to be aged for at least six Years in these barrels so a lot of the Aromas that are going to be derived from Van Zone uh as you can see on the slide Bread dough so maybe unlike things like Toasted bread maybe more like you've Made sourdough starter before if you've Made sourdough that kind of doughy Fermenting kind of aroma As well as spices like ginger people Also speak about Um Aromas of Curry Leaf in these wines You have to definitely become a lot more Savory this is a very similar method of

Maturation to Fino Sherry or manzania Sherry So if you've tasted one of those it's Going to have a really similar kind of Structural and aromatic profile Um I wanted to pick one of these wines Because Um firstly a few uh a few kind of little Quirks about banjo and firstly a Celebration takes place every year in February called the per se de van Zone Where people who live locally to the Regions in the journal that this wine is Made will have a big weekend celebration Where they will taste the most recent Release of this fan Joan and I actually Went this year and if you like lots of Wine and lots of cheese there is no Better way to spend a weekend And finally These wines are bottled they've got a Special dispensation to be bottled in a Non-typical format So typically a wine bottle is 750 Milliliters But these wines are bottled in 62 or 620 Milliliter bottles called And the idea behind that is that the Um amount of liquid that's lost through The barrel over this minimum six years Aging period means that we lose from a 750 ml bottle we end up actually having Closer to 62 centiliters instead so that Remaining amount is lost into the air in

In whiskey this would be called an angel Share so something quite similar Happening here which is why the wines End up getting bottled in slightly Smaller formats and it's typically not Allowed when it comes to EU legislation And bottling so it's a real special kind Of work of Van Jones you can see the the Images of the bottles on the slide here Foreign Study this is a an entirely different Way of Aging once again Grand Cru Class A Bordeaux so potentially I think you could argue this is the Age-worthy wine in some ways Um and the methods behind aging it are Pretty different to the other styles We're going to look at because a lot of The owners Of Aging falls on the consumer So these wines are often sold via a System called on premer Which means that the wine is sold about A year or a year and a half before it's Even bottled so at this point it is Particularly Young This was in order to help cash flow in The region after World War II These wines have a long history of Having a very common consensus that they Need to be aged a long time before being Opened and so that costing increasing Amounts of wineries meant wineries made The decision to sell the wine before it

Was even bottled And allow those allow a little bit of Cash flow to be added in Um to their operation before uh rather Than having to wait a prolonged period Of time when it was kind of ready to Release so what this means is that once The wine is purchased it needs to be Aged by the consumer Often in a kind of Secure Storage Unit At the correct Um conditions for aging wine we'll look At that um in the next couple of slides And the idea then is that the onus is on You to age the wine for a prolonged Period of time before you then go to Open it Um at least a decade for lots of these Wines and that's because the Grand Cru Class A wines of Bordeaux have a very High level of tannin and a high level of Acidity and both of these things are Going to allow the wine to soften But still maintain its structure and be Preserved over time Aromas are going to develop in these Bottles as well Here I've got leather prune uh certainly Kind of tobacco equality as well so These wines definitely will become more Savory more delicate and those tannins Are going to soften out as well My final case study for a key wine where Age is important to its style is cantero

Madeira so Cantera refers to the method In which these wines are matured and is Generally considered a particularly high Quality way to mature our wines our Madeira wines These wines are aged in Oak barrels In a warm environment with a small Headspace of air as well and all of this Is to mimic the environment these Barrels may have traveled in over ship Um to get to their destination market And so we kind of mimic that today We need a warm environment and that warm Environment will allow Aromas to be Concentrated and the level of alcohol to Rise in the barrel this is as water Starts leaving that Barrel Everything will become more and more Concentrated And in Madeira if you're a producer you Are really incentivized to keep your one Aging for a prolonged period of time you Can see in this image a seal uh on a Barrel By The ivbam Who are the Madeira kind of Body and you are incentivized to age Your wife so every five years if you can Keep your wine aging for five years You'll be paid subsidy and The Aromas that are going to develop in Your Madeira include apricot raisin kind Of chocolatey Smoky quality as well so Really really worth trying if you want To taste some of those

Um A Rome is derived from derived from age Now if any of this has got you kind of Thinking I want to have a go at aging Some wine myself and if if I can leaving It and kind of forgetting about it and Opening it back up and seeing what that Wine is like and see how that wine has Maybe developed then I think it's a Really a really wonderful thing to be Able to do Um you do need some quite specific Conditions and potentially some quite Specific styles of wine we've touched on A few a few of these already But a few tips for aging wine yourself So firstly the conditions that you're Keeping your wine in Um you want to make sure that this wine Is at a cool and constant temperature so No big swing season to season one thing I really notice is that lots of people And I I totally understand why that Store their Wines in their kitchen and I've even seen sort of wine racks Inbuilt next to ovens in those ovens When they're opening and closing and all That hot air it will really cause your The wines in there to massively Fluctuate Um so as far as you can avoid that the Better a cool constant temperature Away from bright light as well Um and away from any kind of real

Movement and vibration so kept almost The conditions you want to be sleeping In as the wine is sort of also sleeping As well so a nice cool constant Temperature nice and dark away from Vibrations and really if you imagine in Your mind a wine cellar this is pretty Much what it looks like it's kind of Dark Um can be a bit damp as well Um sufficient levels of humidity can Also be quite useful if you're seeking To age your wine for a prolonged period Of time So those are the conditions some styles To kind of consider now I think when it Comes to aging over the course of Researching this webinar I've really come to the conclusion that The Aromas that develop when you age Your wine it's so subjective as to Whether or not you will prefer or enjoy That wine better Um so to strip it all back in order for A style of wine to really be age worthy It needs to have a lot of flavor Intensity to begin with and that's Because we will or may lose some over Time And what can also really help is Preservative qualities in the wine so That's generally a high level of acidity A high level of tannin or a high level Of sugar maybe even two of the three

Maybe even three of the three if we're Thinking about something like port And those will allow your wine to Um those will the wine that will then Have a greater consensus that it's more Suitable for aging but personal Preference is key here if you like wines That taste really bold and fruity Potentially aging it for prolonged Period of time isn't going to be the Thing for you whereas if you like your Wines maybe a bit more Savory a bit more Delicate then definitely give it a go Another recommendation is potentially to Buy a few of the same wine and taste it Maybe once uh a year or longer than that Particularly if it's quite special wine To you you can kind of track how it's Developing over time and I think that Can be a really fascinating thing So a few tips to get you started on your Aging wine journey and a few styles of Wine maybe to seek out and try to see Whether or not you do like the Styles um That can be created by aging wine That really leaves me to just say thank You so much for joining and if there are Any questions I can see there might be a Couple Um Okay yes two brilliant questions so Firstly does vintage matter when aging Why this can have a real important Effect on

Um the Aging potential of your wine uh At least in some regions so Bordeaux is Probably the most famous region for Um vintage being a real part of the Conversation when it comes to aging wine And that's partly because the conditions Over a growing season in Bordeaux are Really really changeable And so One year if you've got a really Beautiful year those grapes are very Very happy you may end up making a Really age-worthy style and one year if The weather conditions are pretty Rubbish rainy or your yield is much Lower maybe those aren't quite the right Conditions so it's the regions that Generally very changeable and Unpredictable weather year to year That are likely is likely going to be a Factor in how age-worthy that is it's so Um uh easy to find vintage Guides Online As well sometimes I'll do that I'm not Very good at committing those Particularly years to memory so Sometimes it can be just handy if you're Thinking about buying a wine that's got Some age on it you're not sure whether Or not you want to um you want to Proceed with the purchase so I was just Bring up a quick vintage guide just to Check how suitable for um aging the wine Might be Um

I've got a question about investing wine How can you be sure that the wine was Aged properly or kept in the right Condition another really good point that Actually it's very hard to find that out So there are various certifications the One can have gone through but it's never Going to be a real guarantee in some Cases it may be depending on who's been Storing it but another facet of the risk Of buying wine with the intention of Making a profit or buying wine Um From an investor Um do we need enough alcohol for aging That can be important but what's more Important is that acidity Um that tannin and that Sugar those are The more key preservative qualities if a Wine just has high levels of alcohol It's not necessarily going to make it Generally suitable for aging so um Something to something to be aware of I think that's all our questions I think A feedback box has popped up so if you Don't mind filling that out that would Be fantastic Um this webinar is going to be available On the um WC Global events Hub on YouTube so you can check back and watch It Um in a day or two if there's anything Uh you want to re-watch uh I'll just Leave you to to get on with the rest of

Your day maybe try some aged wines thank You very much