While our wine kits are ready to bottle (depending on the kit) in 28 or 45 days, they're not ready to drink at that point. They still need at least a month to get over the shock of bottling, and to begin opening up to release their aromas and flavours. So one month is the minimum time you should wait, to allow the kit to start tasting good. But to do the wine proper justice, three months is much better, and will allow your wine to show much of its character.
However, for most of the whites, and for virtually all reds, the time needed to smooth out the wine and allow it to express its mature character is actually six months. Whites intended for ageing may display exceedingly high acid levels at first, which will soften over time, uncovering wonderful textures and flavours. With age, most red wines that begin life with obvious fruity aromas and some degree of astringency will develop softer, gentler, more complex aromas and flavours. The wines become richer, as the fruit mellows and the astringent tannins relax and contribute to the body and character.
To open a wine too soon is akin to trying to eat a cake that is only half-baked. Allowing time to do its work always produces the best, most delicious results.
Components of wines differ by variety or blend, and thus react differently to ageing. Some wines require longer ageing periods than others. For example, notice the differences between wines in the following chart:
More Ageing - Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, Luna Rossa
Some Ageing - Merlot, Pinot Noir
Little Ageing - Bergamais
More Ageing - Chardonnay, Luna Bianca
Some Ageing - Sauvignon blanc, Johannisberg Riesling
Little Ageing - Liebfraumilch, Piesporter
The following factors exert influence on the rates of ageing, and can contribute to a better ageing potential:
Storage – Storage conditions are a very big factor. Wines must be stored at a constant temperature (the ideal would be 7-13C/45-55F), need to be shielded from light, should be stored where they will not suffer from vibration, and should be in a place with 60-75% humidity.
Cork quality - The longer and less porous the cork, the better the oxygen barrier, extending ageing potential.
Ullage - The amount of headspace in the bottle. Leaving 1 inch is best.
Sulphite level – Higher concentrations protect from oxidation.
The ageing period needed for different Winexpert products will depend on many factors. For example, using a high quality cork, such as Nomacorcs, or adding some extra sulphite at bottling will extend the maximum age period. Thus, the following is useful only as a general guideline:
Selection Reds - Best after - 3 - 6 months - Best before - 3 years
Selection Whites - Best after 3 - 6 months - Best before - 2 years
Vintners Reserve/World Vineyard - Reds - Best after - 2 months - Best before - 1 year
Vintners Reserve/World Vineyard - Whites - Best after - 1 month - Best before - 1 year
Chai Maison/Island Mist - Best after - Immediate - Best before - 1 year