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).