How long can you store wine? That is a question that many people have, and it is not an easy one to answer. The truth is, the length of time that wine will last depends on a variety of factors including the type of wine, how it is stored, the quality of the wine, and even the climate where you live. In this blog post, we will take a look at different types of wines and how long they are likely to last under different conditions.
Why People Store Wine For A Long Period Of Time
We've all heard about "aging wine" and seen fancy wine cellars in movies and in design magazines but most people don't quite understand the concept of aging wine or why it may be needed. Let's take a look at some reasons why you might want to store wine for an extended period of time, rather than just simply enjoy it a few days after purchase.
Collecting Your Favorite Vintage
One of the most common reasons to age wine is to create a collection of your favorite wines. Most of us are, or know a wine lover who raves about a certain kind of wine that they just can't get enough of. If you find a vintage wine that you really enjoy, you may want to buy a few bottles and store them away so that you can drink them at a later date. This way, you can have a bottle of wine from your favorite year or estate to enjoy on special occasions without having to worry about the wine going bad.
Extending The Life Of A Limited Edition Wine
Another reason people store wine is that they may have come across a limited edition or hard-to-find wine that they want to keep for an extended period of time. In this case, people are not only worried about the quality of the wine degrading over time but also the possibility that the wine may become unavailable in the future. If you have your heart set on a particular wine, it may be worth it to buy a few bottles and age them so that you can enjoy them later on down the road.
Bulk Buying Is Cheaper Than Purchasing Individual Bottles
Sometimes, people choose to age wine because they have found a great deal on a large quantity of wine. This could be anything from purchasing wine in bulk at a discount store to finding a case of wine on sale. In these instances, people often choose to age the wine so that they can save money in the long run.
Aging Young Wine So That It Can Achieve The Perfect Flavor
Lastly, many people believe that aging wine can help to improve the flavor of the wine. While this is not always true, there are certain types of wines that do benefit from being aged for a period of time. For example, tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux tend to taste better after they have been aged for several years as this allows the tannins in the wine to soften and develop more complex
Are You Seeking Short-Term or Long-Term Wine Storage?
Now that we have looked at some of the reasons why people age wine, let's talk about how long you can actually store wine. The answer to this question depends on what your storage goals are. Are you looking for short-term storage or long-term storage? Let's take a look at both options.
Short-Term Wine Storage: Up To One Year
If you are looking for short-term wine storage, then you will be happy to know that most wines can be stored for up to one year without any issues at room temperature, in a location away from direct sunlight. This includes white wines, red wines, dessert wines, and sparkling wines. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and most whites will need to be consumed earlier while tannic reds will last far longer. Most types of wine though can be stored for up to 12 months without any significant changes in flavor or quality.
The key to successful short-term wine storage is to make sure that the wine is stored in a cool, dark place. The ideal temperature for storing wine is between 50-59 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not have a dedicated wine fridge or cellar, then I would highly recommend that you invest in a wine rack so you can rest the bottles on their side out of the sunlight. However, you can also store your wine in your kitchen refrigerator. While this is not ideal for long periods of time, resting the bottles in an upright position in a part of the fridge that will not ice over is generally an acceptable solution for short-term wine storage. Just be sure to take it out and let it come to the appropriate temperature before serving.
Long-Term Wine Storage: More Than One Year
While short-term storage of your wine is something many people will need to consider regardless of the quality of their wine, fine wine brings with it a variety of factors that might make you want to store it for months or even years.
Whatever your reason, If you are looking for long term wine storage, then you will need to take a few extra steps to ensure that your wine lasts as long as possible. First and foremost, you will need to invest in a wine fridge or wine cellar. This is because the temperature and humidity in your home are likely to fluctuate throughout the year, which can cause the wine to age too quickly.
When it comes to long-term storage, you will also need to be careful about the humidity levels in your wine cooler or cellar. The ideal relative humidity level for storing wine is between 50-70%. If the air is too dry, then it can cause the cork to dry out and shrink, which will allow oxygen to enter the bottle and spoil the wine. On the other hand, if the air is too humid, then it can promote mold growth inside of the bottle.
Maintaining a consistent temperature is essential for best results and most wine experts cite the perfect temperature for storing wine to be between 55-57oF. This constant temperature makes for ideal wine storage conditions. This might be surprising for some people because we use the words " wine refrigerator" and "wine cooler" to describe devices that are used to mimic a traditional wine cellar. Ultimately though it is more about maintaining a consistent temperature as the wine ages that will help to preserve it, rather than a low temperature the way you might think when preserving food in a refrigerator.
Additionally, unlike most people who may store their wine for short periods standing up, in a cellar or wine fridge, the bottles are resting on their side so that the cork does not dry out from the inside. Additionally in an environment like this where the bottles are resting, it will also reduce the likelihood of oxygen getting into the bottles or that the liquid is disturbed as it ages.
In general, you can expect most wines to last for several years when stored in a wine fridge or cellar. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and some wines will not age well at all while others will improve with age. In general, you can expect most premium wines to last for at least five years and some can even last for decades when stored properly.
Whether you are looking for short or long-term storage, your best bet for storing wine is to avoid direct light, maintain consistent cooler temperatures, and environment where they can rest on their side undisturbed. These factors will significantly improve any wine's shelf life.
Tips For Storing Different Types Of Wine To Preserve And Enhance Them
Now that we've taken a look at general advice for how long you can store wine, let's look at some varietal-specific tips for different wines to ensure your wine lasts as long as possible.
One very important thing to note here is that the quality of the wine will play a very important role in terms of how long the wine will last. This is true both in terms of the varietal with better production techniques resulting in a wine that may last longer but also in terms of the manufacturing quality of the bottle.
For instance, cheaper glass or cork type might allow oxygen to invade the bottle more rapidly on a $10 bottle of Pinot Noir that you purchase at the grocery store than a $100 bottle that you purchase directly from your favorite Santa Barbara County vineyard.
there's no single answer since there are many factors that come into play when trying to determine how long a particular bottle of wine will last. Likewise, there is going to be a spectrum in the taste of the wine as it approaches (or even passes) the point of reaching it's best quality.
The tannins in red wine make them more resistant to oxygen than white wines. This means that they will age better and last longer under the right conditions. That being said, you should still aim to drink most red wines within five years of their vintage date. If you are planning on storing a red wine for a longer period of time, then look for wines with higher tannin levels as they will age better.
Grape varietals that have higher tannins and will last longer include: Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah / Shiraz, Sangiovese, Malbec. Red wines with lower tannins include Merlot, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Grenache, and Zinfandel.
This gets confusing though because some of the most popular wines sold at retail are actually "red blend" wines and so you should look at the source grapes or go based on your tasting to determine if it has long term storage potential.
Realistically though, most red blends sold at retail are designed to enjoy right then. Bordeaux Blends that fall into the fine wine category may see significant improvement with age since the tannins mellow out as well as a variety of chemical reactions that occur with the components of the wine such as sugars, acids, and phenolic compounds.
This is why even at retail it is unlikely to see a red less than two years old. If you are patient, however, that wine can get much better in 3, 5, or even 10 years.
White wines are generally not meant to be aged for long periods of time and are often best enjoyed young. That being said, some white wines can benefit from short-term storage of around one year. Look for white wines with higher acidity levels as they will age better than those with lower acidity levels. Additionally, because wine wines are removed from their skins during fermentation, there are very low tannins in most white or even rose wines. This means that they will oxidize more quickly than their red cousins.
However, the level of acidity in white wines will allow some to have aging potential and over time the acidity will begin to fade allowing for a transformation of the wine and new flavors to emerge.
This is why some chardonnay wines can still be very enjoyable after being stored for decades in a proper wine cellar.
Other white wines with advanced aging potential include Sauvignon Blanc, Viura, Semillon, Viognier, Savatiano, and Arinto though Chardonnay is by far the most common white wine that connoisseur will consider aging beyond just a few years.
Sparkling wines are best enjoyed within a year or two of their vintage date. The bubbles in sparkling wine will start to dissipate over time, so it is best to drink them while they are still fresh.
The length of time a sparkling wine will last is also closely tied to the manufacturing quality. Since many sparkling wines are cheap bottles made more for celebrating and toasting at parties those bottles have cheap glass and inexpensive corks and cages that will allow gasses to escape after a year or so. On the other hand, premium products made in the traditional method such as Dom Perignon or products from smaller fine wine producers such as Nytimber, Pence Vineyards, or Carter Estate have both excellent packaging and premium wine that may last as long as a decade under the proper conditions.
Dessert wines can last for several years when stored properly. However, they will gradually change in flavor and become more raisiny as they age. If you are looking to store a dessert wine for a longer period of time, then look for wines with higher sugar content as they will age better.
Finally, the old adage is very important here ... check the expiration date printed on the bottle and when in doubt ... throw out. You probably won't get sick by tasting a wine that has passed its prime but you will be able to tell quickly if that has happened.
Enjoy Your Wine, Don't Think You Have To Age It!
When it comes to wine, there are many different factors that come into play when determining how long it will last. The type of wine, the storage conditions, and even the quality of the manufacturing can all affect how long a bottle of wine will remain fresh. However, with a little knowledge about what to look for, you should be able to store your wine in a way that allows you to enjoy it at its best. Keep in mind that not all wines need to be aged and some are actually better when enjoyed young. So go ahead and pop open a bottle tonight and celebrate!