Barolo - Aging and drinking

Before a Barolo wine can be brought on the market it must have aged for at least 3 years (2 years in wooden casks and 1 in the bottle) for a normal Barolo and 5 years for a riserva (3 years in wooden casks and 2 in the bottle). Many wineries bring their bottles on the market after 3 years. Before a Barolo can be drunk it must be at least 5 years old in theory, in practice however, most Barolos can best be drunk when they are about 10 years old after which the heavy tannins are softer because of the aging process. Of course there are always exceptions, when a bottle comes from a good winery, a good vintage and a specific vineyard, then in some cases this bottle is possible to drink when it is just 5 years old. These are often the best and thus more expensive Barolo wines.

When in doubt if a Barolo can already be drunk or not it is best to leave the bottle to age for some more years, this will in most cases not harm the wine, it will even get better, the only exception being a bad vintage (such as 2002), in which case the wine can best be drunk young (5 - 7 years). Wines from a good vintage and winery can age for 30 years and sometimes even longer in which it will only improve.

When a wine will be cellared longer than 5 years it is advised to store the wine in a dark environment at a steady temperature, preferably around 17°C or 62°F, but room temperature (between 15°C / 59°F and 22°C / 72°F) will do as well.

Decantation:
Before a bottle of Barolo can be drunk it is best to be decanted using a decanter. A decanter is a glass jug that is wider at the bottom than at the top. The wide bottom ensures that a large part of the wine is in direct contact with the air. This process brings out the flavors better and breaks down the strong tannins, making the Barolo softer and more enjoyable to drink. How to do this and how long before drinking this must happen depends on the age of the wine. For a young wine (7 till 10 years old) you can pour the wine in fast to ensure that the wine comes into contact with air as much as possible. After this you can best wait for about 4 hours before drinking the wine. For an older wine (25 years and more) it is better to put the bottle standing a day before drinking it to enable the grape residue to sink down. Then when decanting the wine make sure to use a decanting glass with limited space (as much space as the wine itself has or slightly more) and pour the wine slowly in it to avoid too much contact with air. With older wines too much air can break down the taste. Taste the wine after one hour of decanting it, if the flavors still don't come out, leave it for two more hours.

Always make sure to serve Barolo at the right temperature (cool it down for 30 minutes in the fridge when needed). Too hot or too cool wine can really destroy the taste. The best temperature to serve a Barolo is between 18°C and 20°C or 64°F and 68°F


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