FAQs on Aging and Storing Wine
Although many of us purchase wine for the occasion on which we want to drink them, it’s a common practice to “cellar” wine, or age it in the proper room temperature and humidity. Those that are serious wine collectors cellar their wines to the perfect age so that they are getting the full and complete flavor profiles that the winemaker intended.
We realize that this is a pretty foreign practice to the average wine drinker so we wanted to answer some commonly asked questions about wine storage and aging!
Why should I age my wine?
You’ve probably heard that wine gets better with age, which is sometimes true but is completely dependent on the wine itself. For the wines that this phrase does ring true, it’s because their flavors actually come through stronger after sitting for a couple years. The qualities of a noteworthy aged wine, like acidity, tannins, and balance, all need some help to regulate with each other and that help comes from time. Consider the difference between a freshly pulled-from-the-vine strawberry and one that is perfectly ripe. One is bitter and tart with less flavor, and the other makes your mouth glow with the lush, full sweetness that you were hoping for.
How do I know how long it needs?
If you’re buying from a grocery store, the bottle is probably ready to drink within the next year. However, if you’re buying from a winery, the winemaker will let you know how long your bottle should sit. The same thing goes if you’re buying from a quality wine shop with knowledgeable staff and a great selection of high-class wines. Many reds should sit for 3-5 years but that does not go for all of them. Whites are usually between 2-3 years, but again, consult the professional who is selling you that particular bottle.
What happens if I drink it early?
You might explode. Just kidding! A winemaker isn’t going to bottle something that isn’t good so if you drink it right when you purchase the wine, it will taste great, it just may taste better in a couple years. Some winemakers bottle with the expectation that people will be drinking it immediately so in those cases, you’re doing exactly what they want!
What happens once I open it?
Oxygen isn’t really a friend to wine so it should be consumed once it’s opened but if you store it properly, it can last for a few days up to a week, depending on the varietal. You can check out this handy guide from Wine Folly for the specifics. When it comes to properly storing an open bottle of wine, you want to make sure it’s recorked and stored away from light and air, which is why the fridge is a great spot for housing some open wine, even the red ones.
There is a whole lot of science and research out there about keeping and cellaring wines so if you have interests in a particular varietal or bottle, make sure you look into it! Tasting wines after they’ve aged and learning about their differences can be cool, which is why we always recommend going straight to the source and trying to contact the winemaker themselves for the true answers, especially if it’s a local winery!