A misconception that exists by consumers is that all wines must be aged. This is simply not true. When you buy a wine, it is ready to be consumed. However, there are some wines that will mature over a period of aging, bringing out more character and complexity.
The following is meant to be a guideline to help you decide how long to age a wine. There are a lot of factors that can affect the aging of a wine, such as quality of the wine, and level of sulfites contained within it. Therefore you should think of this as more of a suggestion than a rule.
Higher quality wines will age longer and better than lower quality wines. Wines with more sulfites will last longer as well. Sulfites can be thought of nature’s preservative.
Beaujolais: 0-3 years Beaujolais Nouveau: drink when purchased Bordeaux, Red: 7-12 years Bordeaux, White: 4-10 years Cabernet Sauvignon, lower quality: 5-6 years Cabernet Sauvignon, higher quality: 7-15 years Champagne, non-Vintage: 0-2 years Champagne, Vintage: 5-10 years Chianti: 0-5 years Chardonnay: 0-5 years Merlot, lower quality: 3-4 years Merlot, higher quality: 5-12 years Gewurztraminer: 0-4 years Port, non-vintage, tawny: 0-5 years Port, Vintage: 10-20 years or longer Riesling: 3-4 years Rioja: 5-10 years Syrah/Shiraz: 3-5 years Vouvray: 0-5 years Zinfandel, Red: 5-10 years Zinfandel, White: 0-1 years