While taste is subjective, Cabernet Sauvignon falls among the wine varieties that can improve with time; so yes, Cabernet Sauvignon ages well. This full-bodied, highly tannic, and moderately acidic red wine is built to last; this may be one of the reasons it is so popular.
Many Cabernet Sauvignon is specifically crafted to be savored appropriately when aged, as this causes the various underlay of complex secondary flavors like toast, cinnamon, cedar, etc., to come to the forefront after a significant period of aging.
Nonetheless, aging your wine is equal parts science and art, and sometimes, your Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t even need to be aged. So in this article, we will clarify if you have to age your Cabernet Sauvignon, how an aged Cabernet Sauvignon tastes, and give a step-by-step guide on how to age your Cab to perfection.
This is one of the most popular red wines in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon is obtained from a grape variety that is easy to grow and, as such, is grown worldwide. It is a full-bodied, dry wine with medium-high tannins and medium-high acidity.
Some of the primary flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon are black currant, cedar, black cherry, plums, and sometimes mint. There are many options in the market, ranging from juicy and fruity to earthy and savory. The region a Cabernet Sauvignon is produced will also have a marked imprint on its taste and aroma.
Why does Cabernet Sauvignon age well?
Cabernet Sauvignon ages gracefully due to its overall balance of tannin, acidity, alcohol, and flavors. This wine ages well due to the structural elements of the Cabernet grape itself.
These grapes have thick skins that are packed with tannins which are naturally occurring polyphenols that give a wine its astringency and are necessary for aging.
Furthermore, the ratio of tannins to acidity (as well as alcohol and sugar levels) determines the structure of a wine. A structured Cabernet Sauvignon with balance in all these elements is an excellent choice for aging.
During aging, the tannins in a well-structured Cabernet will bind together and fall to the bottom of the bottle, resulting in less astringency and mellowed-out acidity, giving way to a whole new world of flavors that you’d have missed if you had drank your wine young.
Do I have to age my Cabernet Sauvignon?
This red wine, that’s all tannin and fruit, has structural elements (moderately high tannin, balanced acidity, moderate alcohol level) that make it a choice wine for aging. However, you do not have to age your Cabernet Sauvignon.
“All wine is meant to be drunk, not stared at in a collection”: this is a noteworthy rule popular in wine-drinking circles. You can purchase a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and decide to drink it young (within five years of its production) if you prefer a wine that tastes youthful, fruity, and vibrant with a clear line of acidity.
So there isn’t really a hard rule on when Cabernet Sauvignon should be drunk; it boils down to your palate and what flavors and mouthfeel you hope to savor. Some Cabernet Sauvignon requires patience and are better with age, as aging causes them to mature, giving them depth and changing them in exciting ways.
Furthermore, not all Cabernet Sauvignon is necessarily better with age, so taste your Cab and ensure it has a balanced structure: acid, tannin, alcohol, body, and sugar. Without this intricate balance, you can age your Cabernet Sauvignon for as long as you like, but you might not like the result.
How long should I age my Cabernet Sauvignon?
When it comes to aging, there are two types of wine: thirst wine and keeping wine. Thirst wines should be drunk in their youth simply because they don’t improve with age.
They were made to be consumed young since their fruitiness and vibrancy are their main allure. Most thirst wines are relatively cheap. Conversely, keeping wines are wines that can be cellared or aged (they can also be drunk young).
Wines like these have the overall structural balance we explained earlier, they can be enjoyed in their youth, and they keep developing and maturing gracefully with age. They are typically expensive and are called premium wines. A premium Cabernet Sauvignon is a keeping wine.
A well-crafted premium Cabernet Sauvignon that is age-worthy can last for 20+ years. However, you should age your wine based on the type of taste you hope to achieve. If you want a bold Cabernet with strong fruity flavors and a clear note of acidity, three to four years is perfect.
For smoother tannins, mellowed acids, and flavors of vanilla, cedar, dark chocolate, or other earthy notes, a range of ten to fifteen years will serve you best. Finally, for the relatively uncommon taste of dried fruit, leather, and other dark notes, a period of 20+ years should do (as long as it’s premium Cabernet Sauvignon).
The technique of the winemaker also factors in how well your wine will age. So before buying a bottle, you hope to age, inquire about it. If your Cab is all acid and tannin with no clear note of fruit, it’s out of balance and shouldn’t be aged for too long (not longer than five years).
Also, how does it taste now? If you drink a glass, and it tastes perfect, then why age it? If it tastes perfect, that probably means you should drink the wine as it is.
How does an aged Cabernet Sauvignon taste?
If you’re going to age your premium Cabernet Sauvignon, It is good to know how it will develop over the years so you can pick the right time with just the right taste to satisfy your palate.
An aged Cabernet Sauvignon is much more mellow than a young Cabernet Sauvignon. The longer you keep your premium Cabernet Sauvignon, the more the primary flavors like blackberry, cherry, plum, etc., give way to secondary flavors such as vanilla, cinnamon, cedar, tobacco, and dried fruits.
Also, it is not uncommon for the typical blackberry aroma to give way to a more earthy, smoky aroma (perhaps due to being aged in oak) that will add a fold of mystery to your wine.
A Cabernet Sauvignon that is meant to be aged will loosen up and give way to flavors and textures that you would not have experienced had the wine not undergone aging.
Essentially, an aged Cabernet Sauvignon has relatively low acidity that allows you to enjoy all the delicate notes present in the wine. An aged Cabernet is a delightful pleasure that strikes the perfect balance between the fruity flavors of young wine and the earthy, savory aromas of aged vintage wine.
Guide to aging Cabernet Sauvignon to perfection
Now you know how long you can age your Cabernet Sauvignon and how it tastes at different aging periods; all that’s left is the essential considerations for adequately storing and aging your wine.
Keep it Dark:
Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be aged in the dark. That’s why they are often kept in dark-colored bottles in a bid to prevent too much light from hitting the drink.
Light—which usually goes hand-in-hand with heat—can cause chemical reactions in your wine which can cause discoloration and an unpleasant smell. Your Cabernet Sauvignon should be kept out of direct sunlight when stored as this is a prime condition for leading to a bad-smelling wine.
Keep it Cool:
Your wine needs to be kept away from heat. Places like the kitchen or boiler room with excessive heat will negatively affect your Cabernet Sauvignon as your wine will fail to age correctly.
A cool and dark place, such as under a bed, a closet, or a basement, is a great choice. If you’re willing to break the bank, a dedicated wine refrigerator is your best bet; after all, your premium Cabernet Sauvignon deserves the best condition for its aging.
Keep it Humid:
Your Cabernet Sauvignon, like all age-worthy wines, should be kept at high humidity levels. The humidity keeps the cork from drying and falling out, which will lead to the oxidation and eventual spoilage of your wine.
We don’t want that to happen, so ensure the storage environment of your wine is as humid as it is dark. A wine cellar or wine refrigerator will serve you best.
Keep it Lying;
Wines should be stored horizontally, so keep your Cabernet Sauvignon lying down. One of the reasons for this is to create a liquid barrier between the wine and the cork and to ensure that the bottle cork stays moistened.
This keeps it from drying and falling, as we mentioned earlier. This is why wine racks are designed to hold bottles horizontally rather than vertically.
Keep it Still:
Moving your Cabernet Sauvignon around during the process of aging is a no-no. Minimal movement is advised as picking up or moving your bottle can lead to some unpleasant tumult of the wine’s compounds.
We recommend that you leave your wine undisturbed and let it age on its own. Furthermore, keep your wine away from vibrations or places with vibrating tools like the kitchen or garage.
Summarily, keep your wine in a cool, damp place with little to no light. And ensure you keep it on its side and as undisturbed as possible. Your tongue and nose will thank you for it when you finally taste and savor your finely aged vintage Cabernet Sauvignon.
Conclusion: Does Cabernet Sauvignon Age Well?
Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice for aging. Savoring a finely aged bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon is the pinnacle of wine drinking for many wine lovers, and rightly so.
This wine can be aged for years (ranging from 5 years to as long as 20+ years), and there is a world of subtle, complex flavors just waiting to be discovered in a single bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.