Every wine has specific organoleptic characteristics. These are given by a series of countless factors, ranging from the type of soil where the vineyard is cultivated, to the quality of grapes, from the experience of the producer, to the phase of wine aging. Refinement is the last phase of aging, or aging of wine. Aging is the last phase of wine’s maturation, the one which takes place just before the wine is bottled. During aging, wine harmonizes its components.
In fact, during vinification, sugar, because of the action of yeasts, is transformed into alcohol and develops secondary aromas. At this point, however, the wine is immature and still to be perfected. A young red wine, for example, completes its aging cycle in a minimum period of about three months, inside inert containers (cement, steel or fiberglass). On the contrary, a more structured red wine, such as Amarone della Valpolicella, needs longer periods of time to be spent in wooden containers, such as casks.
In the moment the must ends its alcoholic fermentation, it becomes wine to all intents and purposes. As we already said, yeasts have transformed sugar into alcohol and they have created secondary aromas. However wine is still immature and needs to grow and to rest in order to harmonize aromas. It is the time that allows the wine to adjust its sharpness and to balance acidity and tannins. In this way it becomes ready to be consumed. The period between the end of fermentation and bottling is called wine maturation.
Aging of Wine
Maturation continues even after the wine is bottled. This phase is called “wine aging“. It is a necessary step in order for wine to reach the perfect balance before being consumed. The time of aging varies from case to case and from wine to wine. It ranges from a minimum of three months to a maximum of six months after bottling.
At this point of its cycle, the wine faces a process which brings it to a complete maturation, where the organoleptic characteristics reach the top of their potentialities. For the aging process it is very important the way the wine is kept (storage rooms, control of humidity, temperature, light and smells).
In wine aging it is also important the choice of the container. This varies according to the wine to be made and the style to be produced. The most used materials are neutral containers, such as steel, concrete and fiberglass, or wood (barriques, tonneaux, large casks). Wood influences in some way the organoleptic characteristics of wine. It can be said its activity is inversely proportional to the size of the container.
Small casks, in fact, ensure a higher surface/volume ratio to which the wine is exposed, as opposed to bigger ones. However every container has a different level of insulation, both thermal and towards oxygen and oxidative phenomena. The hermeticity of the container represents a barrier, more or less resistant and compact, to the evaporation of water and alcohol.
Moreover, even the different types of wood generate different results and influences on wine. The most common ones are oak, chestnut and cherry wood.
Amarone della valpolicella: long aging in oak
Amarone della Valpolicella is aged for about 24 months in 225 liters French barriques. Its aging also continues in bottle for about 12 months. The aging in wooden barrels significantly improves the organoleptic characteristics of this superb red wine.
Amarone thus stabilizes and improves many of its aspects: clarity, color, reduction of the microbial load, it also improves the colloidal complex and increases the inertia towards cloudiness of various types. In fact, barriques are absolutely perfect containers for this purpose.
The aging of Amarone wine is particularly long and, for this reason, once it has been uncorked, before consuming it, it is recommended to open it at least one hour before tasting. The day before opening it is recommended to uncork the bottle. Lastly, in order to taste it in the best way, it is better to choose a large size wine glass with a wide light. In this way all aromas and flavors can be freely spread. The perfect serving temperature is between 18° and 20° C (64° and 68° F).