Is Aging Ability, Thanks To Tannins, The Only Interest Of Red Wine?

if i dare say, i am absolutely starting to believe that the main interest of red wine is in its ability to age.

frankly, when one looks at it, white and red wines are not much different from each other.  both have acidity and alcohol, primary and secondary aromas.  the first main difference is obviously color.  but one can not taste color and certainly, one can not smell it either.  so, color is not vey interesting when it comes to the hedonistic pleasure of red wine.

the second difference, and the key to this post, are the tannins.  their main use, per se, are to act as antioxidant.  they allow the wine to age.  if one is so titillated, they also provide mouthfeel to a certain extent.  but, the astringency that young tannins give to the wine is not exactly what one would call "palate-pleasing"...

interestingly enough, the very process of adding color to red wine, namely maceration of grape skins in juice during (and, sometimes, after) fermentation, not only also provides the tannins of red wine, but also add complexity by releasing delicate aromas trapped into the grape skins.

when a red wine is young, it is necessarily out of balance with tannins being too high in relation to acidity and alcohol, making the wine astringent, even harsh on the palate.  overtime however, these tannins soften, mellowing and integrating with the rest of the wine.  

and the magic is...  the time it takes to do so as the red wine ages, is also the time it takes for the aromatic spectrum to evolve and transform into something rather more complex than the young wine.  if enough (primary & secondary) aromatic complexity exists to begin with, it will oxidize under reductive conditions to form an ethereal bouquet of different aromas.  most of the time, infinitesimaly more complex than its starting point.

tannins, therefore, which are very natural, and unavoidable, by-products of maceration to obtain color, will provide to the necessary elements to also give red wine the potential to become hedonistically and intellectualy more interesting over time.

however, if the red wine does not have enough tannins to start with, it will not age very long.  as it will not, then the wine will remain pretty much on its primary & sesondary aromatics most of its life.  not much different in fact than white wines, i would argue...

as tannins constitute the most important differences between red and white wine, it is also tannins that make red wines potentially extremely complex and pleasurable.  the key, however, is the aging over time.  in doing so, not only it softens the tannins, but makes the wine all the more interesting...