Wines to Collect
There are really only two reasons to put perfectly good bottles away in a cellar: because the wines will gain complexity with age and because the resale value will rise. Any wine that meets both these criteria rates as a "classic collectible."
What happens when a wine ages? Most decent wines will hold together for two or three years. However, almost all wines are made to be consumed in their relative youth. Which means that unless a wine improves with age, there's very little reason to hold on to it. And the fact is, only a few wines actually improve. The ones that do will develop more sublime, sometimes even eccentric aromas along with more subtle, nuanced flavors as their youthful fruit fades.
Which wines age best? Most collectors' cellars are packed with red wines, the most famous of which are made from, or based on, the following grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon (mostly Bordeaux, California), Sangiovese (super-Tuscans and Brunello), Pinot Noir ( Burgundy), Syrah (from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie), Nebbiolo (from Barolo and Barbaresco in Italy). Sweet wines like Madeira, port and Sauternes can also come close to immortality. Of course, exceptions abound: a lively 100-year-old Mosel Riesling from Germany, for example, or a pre-World War II Champagne.