Unlike most food and drink, wine can improve for years. This was not always so. Without the understanding that poor wine making, dirty containers, and exposure to air can cause a wine to quickly turn to vinegar, most of wine making history was operated on the assumption that the best wine was the newest wine. And so it was. The Romans however, found that if a wine was placed in a tightly closed container it could improve with age without going bad. Some Roman wines were successfully kept as long as 100 years. Unfortunately, much of this insight disappeared along with the Empire.
From that time to this, wines have been aged with varying degrees of success. But it wasn't until the rediscovery of the cork, and the improvement of the bottle, that aging wines went to a whole new level.
Until the 1600's, bottles were fragile and quite expensive. By proclamation of King James I, all glass makers were to stop using wood to heat their furnaces and turned to burning coal which allowed for a much hotter fire. Sir Kenelm Digby is credited as the inventor of the modern wine bottle. With the use of a blower to make the furnace even hotter, Digby was able to make bottles that were thicker, stronger and darker. Married to the cork, it was to become the perfect container for the maturing of wines.
In general, red wines will benefit more from bottle aging than white wines. Red wines contain a higher concentration of tannins which require some aging to soften into a less bitter component. As well, an oaked wine will benefit more than a non-oaked wine. The majority of our wine will benefit from some aging.The ultimate test is truly personal preference. In other words, if wine tastes good today - enjoy it today!