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What allows a wine to age?

Approximately 95% of all wine is produced in a style that is meant to be consumed within 3-5 years of harvest.  This is determined by grape variety, growing region and how the wine is produced.  Roughly 5% of all wine will get better with age and thus is worthy of aging.  A wine that is worthy of aging must have a moderate to relatively high amount of at least one of these components …

These components act as natural preservatives and slow the process of oxidation.  The wines that age the longest typically have a combination of two of these components.  Some examples:

The length of time a wine can age is often used as an indicator for how great a wine is.  In other words, great wines age longer then average wines.  The ability to age is one of several factors that make a great wine, great.