Wine Storage

Aging Wines by Type



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Red Wines

 

Beaujolais

Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape which usually produces easy drinking, low tannin, fruity wines.

Up to $12
These light fruity wines are at their best when served quite young.

$12 to $25
The Cru Beaujolais (from individual villages) fall into this category.
They tend to be at their best 3-5 years old.
 


Bordeaux Red (Medoc)

These wines are made predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon and have the same aging profile.

Up to $12
Drink in the short term. Hold for a few months or even a year but these are usually ready to drink when you get them.

$12 to $25
Accessible when they are purchased but these wines should improve a few years (5-6 years from the vintage date).

$25 and up
These wines are likely to improve with age. Depending on the wine, look for 7-15 years of improvement. A few special wines will age for decades.
 


Cabernet Sauvignon

Up to $12
Drink in the short term. Hold for a few months or even a year but these are usually ready to drink when you get them.

$12 to $25
Accessible when they are purchased but these wines may improve a few years (5-6 years from the vintage date).

$25 and up
These wines are likely to improve with age. Depending on the wine, look for 7-15 years of improvement. A few special wines will age much longer.
 


Merlot

A close cousin of Cabernet Sauvingon. It has a similar aging profile but matures more quickly. 

Up to $12
Drink in the short term. Hold for a few months or even a year but these are usually ready to drink when you get them.

$12 to $25
Accessible when they are purchased but these wines may improve a few years (3-4 years from the vintage date).

$25 and up
These wines are likely to improve with age. Depending on the wine, look for 5-12 years of improvement. A few special wines will age much longer.
 


Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir loses much of its fruitiness as it ages and gains complexity. Not everyone appreciates this. It may also go through 'dumb' phases where the aromas and flavors seem to disappear for months.

Up to $15
Drink short term. A year or less is reasonable.

$15 to $25
Accessible at purchase but will age and gain complexity with 2-4 years of age.

$25 and up
These are usually bigger wines that can benefit from age. 5-8 years is reasonable depending on the wine. Some special wines (Grand Cru Burgundies) may age for many years.
 


Syrah/Shiraz

Most newer wine drinkers know Shiraz as an Australian product. It is usually made there in a soft fruity style although exceptions do exist. More experienced drinkers know that the grape has long been used in the Rhone Valley of France where it is usually made in a bigger style and blended with other grapes.

Up to $12
Easy drinking wines that should be consumed within 1 - 2 years of purchase. No benefit from aging.

$12 to $25
More robust wines should benefit from 3-5 years of age.

$25 and up
Special wines like the Grange, from Australia can benefit from a decade or more of age.
 


White Wines

 

Chardonnay

Most Chardonnay is designed for consumption while the wine is young. Special vineyards can produce special wines with aging potential.

Up to $12
Drink up. No benefit from cellaring these wines.

$12 to $25
Drink at 3-5 years from the vintage date.

$25 and up
These wines can age for 4-8 years depending on the wine. Be aware that Chardonnays that have fully gone through malolactic fermentation have greatly reduced life spans. Malolactic Chardonnays have a smell of butter and unusually golden color when young.
 


Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc has high acids and can produce wines that age well. They can, but usually do not. Most Chenin Blancs that you will find are not designed to age over long periods.

Up to $12
Drink within 3 years from the vintage date.

$12 to $25
Drink within 5 years of the vintage date.
 


Riesling

Most people discover Riesling in the lower to middle grade of German wines. It can be one of the best white wine grapes for aging but only the best (and most expensive) Rieslings age well.

Up to $12
Probably a German Qualitatswein or warm weather California Riesling. Drink it within 3-4 years of vintage.

$12 to $25
Better German wines or moderate wines of Alsace. Drink young or age to 6-8 years.

$25 and up
The best sweet German wines or dry Rieslings like Trimbach 'Clos Ste. Hune' can age and develop for decades if stored properly.
 

 

Aging Wine when and how.





Only 1% of the wine in the world is meant to be stored.

 
Aging or “cellaring” a wine means that you take a wine you have purchased and store it in a cool, dark place for a number of months or years, allowing the wine to improve in the bottle.

 
To store or to pour, that is the question. How can you know if a wine should be enjoyed soon or can age gracefully for awhile longer?
 
Most wines are consumed within a few days of purchase, and that’s a good thing. They often were made and released with that in mind. Some wineries give their wine a year or two of age before releasing so wines from the 2016 harvest may not be sold to consumers until 2018 or even later.
 
Most of us have no idea what wines we should age, and what wines we should drink now, but luckily there are some rules that make this decision pretty easy. So how can you know if a wine is one to be placed in the cellar and or to be enjoyed right away? A easy tip is to consider the price. Wines that are priced $30 and under are probably not meant to be aged. Wines in the $50+ range are better bets for storage. There are other things to consider, here a few.
 

Four Clues of the Age-worthy Wine

 

Great fruit: The ultimate ingredient for a fine age-able wine is fruit perfectly balanced in its acidity, tannins and flavors. What does a balanced wine taste like? Flawless and delicious!
 
Reliable Producer: Certain California producers pride themselves on long-lived wines. They include Joseph Phelps, Opus one, Burgess Cellars, Heitz, Chappellet, Ramey Wine Cellars and Clos du Val.
 
Big tannins: Bold tannins give wine the structure to age well. What do they taste like? Tannins can be dry or a bit bitter. They can make your mouth pucker up, somewhat like a sip of strongly steeped black tea.
 
High acidity: Acidity adds to a wine’s vibrant, full-bodied texture. It fades with age, so age-able wines must start out with high acidity. Wines with low acidity (<0.65g/100mL), like Pinot Grigio, will become flat much sooner.
 
Since most of us will buy wines to be drunk immediately, let's agree on one rule: all wine, is meant to be drunk, not looked at in a collection. So store your wine well, and pop your corks often.
 
 

Some important things to remember about how to store wine.

 
1. Keep it dark.
Store all wines away from light, especially direct sunlight. UV rays can cause wine to be 'light struck,' giving them an unpleasant smell.
 
2. Always store corked wine bottles on their sides.
Storing the bottles upright for a long amount of time, will cause the corks will dry out, and air will eventually get to the wine, spoiling the wine.
 
3. Constant temperature.
For extended aging of wine (over 1 year), refrigeration is critical, even a below-ground cellar is not cool enough. An ideal temperature for storing a varied wine collection is 54°F (12.2°C).
 
Temperature in a wine storage area should be as constant as possible. All changes should occur slowly. The greater the changes in temperature a wine suffers, the greater the premature aging of the wine from over breathing. The temperature should never fluctuate more than 3°F (1.6°C) a day and 5°F (2.7°C) a year, especially with red wines
 
4. Don't move the wine.
If possible, store the wines in such a way that you don't need to move them in order to reach a bottle to drink. Try not to move a bottle at all once it is stored. Even vibrations from heavy traffic, motors, or generators may negatively affect the wine.
 
5. Keep the humidity at around 70%.
High humidity keeps the cork from drying and minimizes evaporation.
 
6. Isolate the wine.
Remember that wine "breathes", so don't store it with anything that has a strong smell, as the smell will permeate through the cork and taint the wine.
 
7. Adjust the temperature before serving.
Different wines taste best at slightly different temperatures, which may vary from the temperature in which they were stored. Right before drinking the wine, allow the temperature to rise or fall to the appropriate serving temperature:
 
Blush, rose and dry white wines: 46-57ºF (8-14ºC) 
Sparkling wines and champagne: 43-47ºF (6-8ºC) 
Light red wine: 55ºF (13ºC) 
Deep red wines: 59-66ºF (15-19ºC). 
 

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