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Crafting Age-Worthy White Wines

A common perception about wine is that red wines should always be aged and white wines are intended to be consumed young. I won’t call this a total misconception — it is often true — but there are exceptions to both of these notions about red and white wines. For this column, I’m going to focus on creating white wines that are worth the wait when they are allowed time to evolve into a more complex wine. When talking about aging white table wines (even though there are commercial exceptions that may be aged 20+ years) we’re generally speaking of aging them 4–8 years on a home winemaking scale. As time passes a crisp, fruity young Riesling can develop new tropical fruit aromas and mineral complexities, however it is very difficult, especially on a home winemaking scale, to age a white wine more than 4–8 years without introducing off flavors and aromas. The two most important things to know from the start are that some white varieties will never age well, and only the best fruit should be used to age. Compromised