When starting a collection, it’s important to know how much wine is meant to be aged, and how long it can or should remain in your cellar before drinking. It’s not true that all wine should be aged; in fact, according to Kevin Zraly, one of the leading wine educators, “Ninety percent of all wine made int he world today is meant to be consumed within one year. Another 9% should never see more than five years. Therefore, 99% of all wines should be consumed within five years. If you’re shopping in the $5 to $25 range, all of those wines are really meant to be consumed now.”

So what does this mean for your growing collection? How are you supposed to know which wines you should put away for aging, and which you should plan to drink within the next few months? Madeline Puckette at WineFolly has a step by step guide for deciding whether to age wine. She bases her decision making process on the evaluation of the following: varietalstructureproducervintage, and how  it tastes now.

There are several varietals that will stand the test of time fairly easily (like a Nebbiolo, a Reserva Termpranillo, Tête de Cuvée Champagne, or a Vintage Port, to name a few), whereas others are in general designed to “drink now” (most white wines, Merlot, Dolcetto or Garnacha, for example). This is based on the grape’s structure and durability.

The structure of the wine itself will also play an important role in its aging potential. Wines are all structured differently, with varying levels of acidity, tannin, alcohol and balance. Idenfitying the structure of a wine requires a decent amount of background knowledge and experience with wines of all types.

These are just some of the factors that you should take into consideration when beginning your wine collection, and deciding which of your wines can stand to age a few years (or longer). Read the full article on WineFolly for more information!