Why Riesling Can Be Stored For Longer Than Most Other White Wines

Wine gets better with age — most of the time. While you might think that any and every bottle of wine can be kept for decades only to improve in quality, that's not true. According to BinWise, most bottles lining shop shelves are meant to be enjoyed within five years, with whites and rosés best served even sooner. However, some wines can age well beyond this time frame, Riesling being one star player. But, what are the factors that allow this particular white wine to keep better than others?

An aromatic and acidic grape variety, VinePair explains that although Riesling is native to Germany, trade, travel, and time have led to its thriving production in parts of France, Australia, and even the US. Ranging in style from bone dry to sweet dessert wines to sparkling, Riesling tends to have citrus, stone fruit, or tropical flavors (climate-depending), in addition to honeyed and floral notes. That said, other facets of its profile give Riesling its staying power.

Powerful reds like Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon are destined for aging. This is mainly due to a high content of tannins. According to Wine Folly, the process of making red wines involves macerating grape juice with skins, seeds, and stems, which imparts preservative-like tannins. Yet, tannin-free white wines like Riesling age well, thanks to another key characteristic.

High acidity and sweetness helps Riesling age

Generally, white wines are best enjoyed when they're young as this maintains their fresh and fruity nature. However, Riesling can reap the benefits of time thanks to its exceptionally high level of acid, confirms Wine Seeker. Acidity provides structure as it matures and evolves into a more golden, and textured wine. An aged Riesling even boasts a distinctive petrol aroma — talk about complexity!

Aside from high acidity and low pH, there are a few other factors at play. Wine Enthusiast explains that increased levels of residual sugar, in addition to winemaking processes like maturation in oak can also contribute to the successful aging of Riesling.

Naturally, only high-quality Riesling (not a $15 bottle from the supermarket, alas) can be deemed ageable and guarantee pleasing development. When stored properly, paying close attention to humidity and temperature, Small Winemakers note that Rieslings can be cellared for decades. Of course, if you're not willing to wait, there are other styles that are ready to enjoy sooner.