Aging your wine can sometimes enhance the flavor profile and make a wine taste different than if you were to crack the bottle open upon purchase, but that’s not always the case. Depending on the type of wine you buy, aging may or may not make a difference these days. The wine making process has been refined over the years and is a lot more sophisticated now than it was in the past.
Because of more modern techniques we have wines that will give off their best aromas and flavors when first opening the bottle, but was this always the case?
Do the wines of today taste the same as wines from the past?
If we could get into a time machine and travel back to the mid 1800’s Italy and taste a freshly made Merlot, would it taste the same as a bottle made in 2020?
Modern Wine vs. Historic Wine
When it comes to modern wines versus historic wines, or ancient wines, the main difference is that wines in the past didn’t have all the additives that we have today, nor the understanding of the wine making process. They were made in the most natural ways possible and depending on how far back you go, there were other ingredients added in order to help give it a better flavor.
During the time of the Romans, wine did not taste the same as it does today. In fact, the wine that was produced by the early Romans, Egyptians and Greeks contained various levels of tree resins to help with the fermentation process.
These wines are thought to have been sweeter than a lot of the wines we enjoy today, but they were also consumed in a different manner.
Because of the way the wine tasted, people would often mix their wine with water to help dilute it and make it more palatable. They would mix 1 part wine with 4-5 parts water, and sometimes even honey, to make the wine taste more like a punch than what we know as wine today.
As the world moved closer to the modern era, the wine making process started to resemble more of what we see today. Grapes were cultivated specifically for wine making and cloned vines were used to help keep the consistency of the flavor.
Ancient wines used grapes not grown in the proper soil or climate, thus making their wines extremely inconsistent in flavor, alcohol content, and preservation. Yeast was grown wild and used during the fermentation process, whereas today we have commercially available yeast that is designed not to add any outside flavoring to the wine.
The overall landscape of the world was so different back then, and the techniques used today weren’t even a thought in anyone’s mind, so it would make sense that the wine was not as good as it is today.
The ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians, had nothing else to compare to, so in their eyes they were producing this drink which, with a few mixers, was acceptable and allowed you to become inebriated, and that’s all they were looking for.
In fact, some of the wines developed for the higher class of people would come in at around 16% alcohol and lead to many societal problems. It was even outlawed in some areas for fear that it would disrupt the culture and lead to negative consequences.
Wine of Today
The wine of today is even different than the wines that we were drinking as early as 50 years ago. The popular wine varieties have fluctuated over time which has led to different wines for different times. These days people are looking for lower alcohol content and smoother flavor. The climates and areas in which the grapes are grown plays a huge role in the wine we drink today. There’s a good chance that if you like the wine produced in modern times that you would not have like the wines from ancient times. The understanding of growing and cultivating the grapes, as well as the development of fermentation processes and aging, has led to a modern wine that would be totally different from what you would have experienced in ancient times.