This white wine aging chart reveals which white grape varieties tend to age the best based on inherent traits.
Of course there are always exceptions to the rule! Some white wines have been noted to age well for 30 years or more. Still, you’ll find this chart to be a good starting point to help you consider what to hold on to and what to drink now!
White wines typically don’t age as long as red wines because they’re not fermented on their grape skins. (Unless they are orange wines!) The simple difference between winemaking methods reduces the amount of tannin in the wine, and thus, reduces white wine aging ranges.
Additionally, some white wines have lower acidity. Acidity is a wine trait that slows chemical interactions that cause wines to go bad. So, acidity is a very important trait of age-worthiness in wine.
White Wines That Age Well
- Chardonnay This is the most well-known of the age-worthy whites. Chardonnay gets its ability to age from a combination of higher acidity paired with oak-aging (which adds tannin). Be sure to look for Chardonnay wines with a low pH.
- Sémillon Sémillon is better known as a variety blended with Sauvignon Blanc in the white blend of Bordeaux. Even though Sémillon doesn’t sparkle with tartness, it’s been shown to age gracefully and develop interesting nutty flavors over time.
- Rkatsiteli A rare find outside of Eastern Europe, this grape has all the features of a great white to age, even if it’s not well known. Expect beeswax and nuttiness on the palate with age.
- Riesling This is Germany’s champion aromatic (and often subtly sweet) white that does wonders with time. As it ages, Riesling becomes a rich yellow color with surprising aromas of petrol (caused by an unique aroma compound called TDN).
- Viura Better known as Rioja Blanca – White Rioja – this is where white wines start out with citrus and mineral flavors and become increasingly rich and flavorful as they age. Viura is a great option for a white-friendly addition to your cellar.
- Chenin Blanc Look for the sweet Chenin Blanc wines from the Loire Valley (around Anjou) where some of these collectible choices are thought to last decades. Or, if you’re clever, start hunting in South Africa for up-and-comers.
- Savatiano The most planted white grape in Greece turns out to be an incredible variety capable of evolving into an exotic, nutty, and grassy white with age. If you can find them at home (or pick up there), these wines are a super value option.
- Arinto Perhaps Portugal’s most unsung wine hero, Arinto is produced in a myriad of styles. The best wines have lean, mineral, and citrus notes that open up into rich, honeyed, beeswax, and melon flavors with time.
Dessert Whites Tend to Age Longer
Beyond those still, dry white wines, fortified dessert wines tend to age even longer! Wines such as Sherry, Madeira, and even some Marsala have been shown to improve in flavor and texture over decades.
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Exceptions to The Rule
Of course, as with all things, there are exceptions to the rule. The best thing you can do to improve your tasting skills is to train your palate to taste for quality.
Acidity and tannin are very important for age-ability. Also, sweetness is considered to be a beneficial aging trait in white wines. Good luck and happy hunting!