When it comes to wine, it is important to know what we are talking about, given the wide variety of existing products. If we refer to time, we have different options depending on the aging process of the wine, so when we talk about a Crianza or Reserva wine, it is key to know the differences compared to other similar products.
Enjoying wine is one of the great pleasures of life for fans of this drink. But a good aficionado must know what wine they are drinking, since each product and each wine has its own properties and characteristics.
A profile that is being elaborated with the base of the grape, but also with time and the way in which he himself spends it when it comes to ageing. This leaves us with the need to know what the differences are between an aging wine, a great reserve or a reserve wine, what marks the profile, character and flavor of that wine.
The aging process
Before going into details, it is necessary to know the importance of time when it comes to aging wine. Let us think that, before spending that time of maturation, the wine is nothing more than a grape juice, to which it is precisely this period of time and aging that gives it the flavor notes and the other elements of each wine. This aging is carried out in different types of barrels, depending on the characteristics of each wine. Depending on each variety, different barrels and tanks are also used, which adds extra flavor and nuances to the final product.
It is important to note that, despite the different attempts to set specific guidelines or patterns for this aging process, there is currently no legislation at the state level that marks the time necessary to establish the difference between breeding and reserve. A process in which the different denominations of origin have also tried to take sides, which have been somewhat more successful in the process, within their respective areas.
The objective of this regulation within the appellations of origin themselves is to establish uniformity criteria, so that, if we buy a Rioja Reserva wine with certain characteristics, it has the same nuances whether it comes from Rioja Alavesa or It is from the Rioja Oriental or the Rioja Alta. The same happens with any other wine from any region, in which the uniformity of the final product is essential. However, not all denominations have been as lucky in establishing these standards, so there may be some differences here.
Differences between breeding and reserve
When it comes to knowing these products, in relation to the processing time, there is a certain agreement regarding the times that the wine must spend in this maturation process to reach its adequate point. It is important to know that the aging process varies between white wines and red wines, due to their specific characteristics.
If we start talking about ageing, with regard to red wines, these are those that have undergone a minimum aging process of 24 months in total. Of these two years, at least 6 months must have been in the barrel, following the lines and guidelines of the corresponding denomination of origin. In the case of white and rosé wines, the maturation time is reduced to 18 months, establishing a period minimum of six months in barrel. It should be remembered that these barrels must have a maximum capacity of 330 litres.
With regard to reserve wines, in the case of red wines, the aging process is extended to 36 months, with a minimum stay of 12 months in barrels. As for the process of white and rosé wines, these must spend a total of 24 months of aging, of which six of them must pass in the barrels that we are commenting on.
Finally, we have to talk about the Gran Reserva wines, the ones that spend the longest time in storage until they are released on the market. In this type of wine, the time is increased up to 60 months of aging and total storage, of which at least 18 of these months must pass through the barrel. Regarding the white and rosé Gran Reserva, these must spend 48 months of aging, with at least 6 months of rest in the barrel.
Out of these approaches are the so-called young wines or wines of the year, which, as their name indicates, are those that do not have any maturation period. These wines do not require a specific aging time and, at most, are wines that have spent six months or less in the barrel.
The particularity of the Rioja region
When it comes to looking for the best wine from Spain, there are many who bet on Rioja wines. Something that is perceived in details such as the aging and aging times of these wines, which change the times of this maturation and also the process. As an example, compared to conventional wine barrels, Rioja wines are aged in Bordeaux barrels, typical of the Bordeaux region and with a capacity of 225 litres. Thus, when it comes to a Rioja Reserva or Crianza wine, it has different characteristics from conventional wines.
These times vary in all the types of wine that we are commenting on, so that Crianza de Rioja wines have a minimum aging period of 36 months, of which at least one year must be in barrels, for red wines. In the case of whites and rosés, this time must be at least 2 years or more, with a minimum time spent in the barrel of 6 months. As for the reserves, the times are 36 months in general and 1 year in the barrel for the reds, as well as 2 years or more and six months in the barrel for the whites and rosés.
Finally, regarding the Gran Reserva, it must be aged for two years in the barrel and 3 in the bottle for the reds, while for the whites and rosés the aging must be at least 4 years, with 6 months in the barrel. As we can see, the times are longer than general wines, which explains the greater richness of nuances and flavors typical of these wines.