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wundayatta's avatar

Does white wine age well?

Asked by wundayatta (58706points) December 28th, 2010

I just pulled out a Gewurtzraminer and noticed it was of a 1996 vintage. I decided to put it back and pull out something more recent because I’m just drinking by myself. I put it back because I didn’t know if it would be good or bad. If whites age well, then it would be too good to drink all by myself, and if they turn into vinegar, than I really didn’t want to experience that.

What’s the deal?

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12 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Open it now and drink it. Unlike most red wine, it won’t get any better sitting in the bottle.

wundayatta's avatar

But will it get worse?

Seaofclouds's avatar

My husband says 96 was a great year for those and you should definitely drink it soon. As far as if it will get worse, it depends on the storage conditions and how long you let it sit (and of course if it is opened or not). Enjoy!

Coloma's avatar


Right, storage conditions are EVERYTHING when it comes to wine.

Cool, dark and temperate, no big temp. flux….but reds age better with age, whites, not so much.

janbb's avatar

@Seaofclouds I lovwe hearing you say “My husband says”!

ETpro's avatar

It is either at its prime or already past it. Realy complex red wines age incredibly well, getting slowly better for many decades. Not so with white wines. Many are as good as they will get soon after bottled. Too much time, and they begin to loose their light, fruity taste. Even light, fruity reds suffer this over time. White wines like Gewurztraminer—a particularly light, fruity varietal—are even more prone to the effect. Zum Wohl

Seaofclouds's avatar

@janbb Thanks. I love being able to just ask him about things that I don’t know the answer to. :)

downtide's avatar

I’ve never had a white wine that’s as old as 15 years but I’ve had a 10 year old that was nice. If it’s well sealed and has been properly stored it should be drinkable but it probably won’t be as good as it was 8–10 years ago. Or else you have yourself a bottle of very nice white wine vinegar. I would advise opening it now, and try it. Certainly don’t leave it any longer.

Rhodentette's avatar

It depends on the varietal, the initial quality of the wine and how it’s been stored.

Two white varietals that do age wonderfully well (10-year-old bottles gain incredible complexity of flavour) are Semillon and Riesling. In fact, with Riesling the older ones are far superior to the younger.

I’ve had a 10-year-old Gewurztraminer that was just spectacular, but I found the quality of those as they get older was really a crapshoot. I’d drink that bottle as soon as possible. Open it with friends and have another bottle (one that you know is good) standing by in case the ‘96 has turned to vinegar.

wundayatta's avatar

Update—the wine is very nice!

ETpro's avatar

@wundayatta Thanks for the update and I’m glad to hear that. Don’t push your lick trying for a repeat, though. Lots of white wines won’t retain their charm that long.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Not enough tannin in whites to allow them to age well. Tannin is the key and it is found in proper amounts only in the skins of red grapes. That is also why blush wines don’t age well, because they are made from red grapes that have had their skins removed before entering the wine making process. The sweeter whites age better than other whites because they have higher levels of fructose, which can help preserve the wine, but not necesarily make it better with age. There are methods to a white age well over the years, however, such as the expensive champenoise process used in the better sparkling wines such as those coming from Champagne. Eventually, all wines become something approximating vinegar. Whites sooner than reds.

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