I read an article which was titled as:

Ageing like fine wine

I'm sill pondering over what does it mean? And, where does it trace it's origin from?

For context, the article talks about a person's achievement?

  • 3
    This is one of those words that can mean its near opposite depending on usage. Compare "This is a fine wine" to "This wine is fine". The first implies that it is of exceptional quality, while the second implies that it is merely acceptable. The English language is screwy that way. Mar 8, 2019 at 21:27

3 Answers 3


A good wine supposedly gets better with age. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aging_of_wine

If this expression is used to describe a person (“aging like a fine wine”) it is meant to compliment the person, saying the more they age, the better they become as a person, like a wine (and unlike most other things, which get worse with age).

  • 3
    Yes - it's particularly relevant that the wine gets even better with age. And in fact, some kinds of wine (Rioja and other wines based on Garnacha or Tempranillo grape varieties come to mind) aren't actually particularly palatable until they've been adequately aged. Mar 8, 2019 at 14:51
  • Then, shouldn't it be just wine without "fine" preceding it ?
    – user81138
    Mar 8, 2019 at 17:05
  • 8
    @Vishal Ghulati no, “fine wine” means a very good (and probably very expensive) wine, as noted in other comments. Fine wines are intentionally aged and get better over time. Mediocre/cheap wines do not improve with age in the same way.
    – Mixolydian
    Mar 8, 2019 at 17:09
  • 1
    "Aging like (spoiled) milk" is the idiom's inverse I usually see.
    – Nick T
    Mar 8, 2019 at 19:10
  • Neve heard that one but I understand the implication!
    – Mixolydian
    Mar 8, 2019 at 19:14

To add to the existing excellent answer from Mixolydian, you may also be interested in the ultimate origin of fine. Etymologists don't seem to be 100% sure, but it seems to come from the same Latin root as finished, and was originally meant as complete, well-rounded, or indeed well-finished.

"Fine wine" typically means the best sorts of wine, though exactly what that means is subjective - though wine critics largely agree in practice. It also means they will be more expensive. I have heard it said that a truly fine wine is such a different experience from a typical supermarket wine that they do not really compare, not any more than wine to grape juice. I have never had what anyone would call a fine wine - and fine wines tend to be red more often than white, in my limited experience, so my opportunities to do so are limited by the fact that red wine gives me a migraine. I did once have a wine that was supermarket price, but superior to anything I've had before or since - including the next year's vintage from the same vineyard. If that's one tenth of the difference between typical wines and fine wines, then I can see why people pay a lot of money for them.

Whatever it is that makes a wine "fine" also tends to affect how it develops after bottling. Wines being produced for the supermarket or local wine shop are intended to be drunk after a short, set aging period, and are as good as they will get when you buy them - and after a few years, they will degrade. Wines that are being made to be as good as they can get them take far longer to "peak" - to reach their optimum drinking quality. Wine buffs even put a lot of effort into working out when it will be, or knowing when it has happened so they can drink it as soon after peaking as possible. Of course, one bottle won't age the same as another if they are kept in different conditions.

So, fine wines, unlike most foods or drinks, get better when they age, at least up to a point. To say something, or someone, has aged like a fine wine is to say that they have improved with age.

  • "my opportunities to do so are limited by the fact that red wine gives me a migraine" Well, it is common when tasting wine to spit it out. Mar 8, 2019 at 20:45
  • You can't properly appreciate a wine just by tasting it. Plus some would get swallowed, it's inevitable.
    – SamBC
    Mar 8, 2019 at 21:43

This seems to be a pretty complicated question. Most wines actually don't age well at all. Only some wines age well, and it's not really true that wines that are more expensive before they are aged are the ones that age better. The aging process itself is expensive, so aged wines don't necessarily cost more because of the costs of growing those varietals or costs of making the wine from the grapes, it's the aging itself that drives up the cost.

The other tricky aspect of this question is the word fine. It doesn't just mean "good", especially in the area of wine-making. There is a process that is sometimes done to wine called fining, which is adding any of several substances that captures certain solutes and suspended substances in the wine and causes them to precipitate out.

So is it really that wine that has been fined ages better? Well not so fast, because over fining of wine can make it age more poorly, since some of the solutes that would be caused to precipitate by fining, like tannins, contribute to improvement of the wine when it's aged.

Very few wines improve with age, but those that do can become far more subtle and complex than unaged single-varietal wines, and while blends can be much more complex than single-varietals, an aged wine can have flavors that don't seem to be present in any kind of unaged wine. Then again, wines that age well often aren't very good when they have not yet been aged. Would they be called "fine" as in "good" before they have been aged? Probably not. At the same time, wine that ages well and has been well-aged, can easily be some of the best wine, and it makes sense to call it "fine wine" after it's been aged.

One possibility is that the phrase is just poetry. "Fine" and "wine" rhyme - and "aged like fine wine" rolls off the tongue quite well. Or it could spring from a misunderstanding of what it means for a wine to age well or be well-suited for aging. Even wine aficionados don't all agree on what "fine wine" means.

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