It’s not a surprise that wine is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. According to Statista, in 2019 the United States consumed 33 million hectoliters of wine, making it the largest wine consumer in the world! There are dozens of varieties of wine on the market, and as delicious as they all might be, in order to enjoy them at their best, there are many things that need to be taken into account.
How can I store wine properly at home?
Storing wine at home doesn’t have to be complicated. While many will tell you that your bottles need to be stored in absolute pristine conditions that can only be created with a great deal of expense, the reality is that there are really just two primary concerns – light and heat.
First off, whether you are saving a bottle for just a few days or for a few years, keep it out of direct sunlight! While many bottles are tinted to help protect them, why take the risk? Keeping your wine in the shade will definitely help prolong its life.
The other concern is heat. Heat is probably a bottle of wine’s biggest enemy. (This goes whether you are storing it yourself or whether you buy it at the store.) Heat will degrade a wine’s quality quicker than just about anything else. That said, any somewhat cool spot will do – whether it be the basement, a closet, or anywhere really. If you live in a particularly warm climate and don’t have air conditioning, investing in a wine cooler might be your best bet.
If you’re aiming to store a bottle of wine for years you’ll want to aim for both a cool and dark place but also an environment that is consistent in regards to temperature and even humidity. This is why wine cellars often tend to be underground.
One other tip regarding heat since wine bottles can often experience it anywhere through their journey from the winery to your home – a tell-tale sign of heat damage is a cork that has been pushed up slightly out of the bottle, or even worse, wine leaking from the cork. If you encounter either of these things, don’t buy that bottle!
–Jon Thorsen at Reverse Wine Snob
Which types of wine age well in a wine cellar?
Traveling Vineyard winemaker, Francis Sanders, says he considers the structure and fruit extraction of each individual wine when it comes to determining whether a wine will age well in a cellar.
“In whites and the lightest reds, I look for structural acidity first, then varietal fruit. Tasting new Chardonnays-in-tank for example, I’m looking for acid and apples—structure and varietal fruit,” he says. Higher acid wines age better because wine loses acid over time.
“In medium and full-bodied reds, I look for tannic structure and varietal fruit extraction.” Tannin, which is not a taste but rather a gritty feeling on the teeth and tongue, allows the wine to age well. “Think of flavors continuing to emerge and develop like a very slow blooming flower.” As the wine’s bottle blend continues to knit, so too do its flavors—similar to a beef stew made on Monday and enjoyed on Tuesday.
“This does not mean that I don’t take color, weight, feel, balance, aromas, flavors, length of flavors, and length of finish into account, but for improving with age there has to be stuffing for the longer haul. For me, that’s structure and extraction.”
Sanders says the best values for aging-in-the-cellar are Alsatian whites and Southern Rhône reds.
– Aly Aiello at Traveling Vineyard
What’s the best way to store champagne?
Well, believe it or not, an unopened vintage bottle can last from five to ten years (and possibly longer), while a non-vintage one will go bad and lose its bubbles in roughly three or four years after purchase. So that’s a solid difference of at least five years, but in the case of a previously opened bottle, we’re looking at an even playing field, since both will simply go flat after a matter of a couple of days. This is all assuming that the Champagne has been properly stored, which we’ll talk about in more detail below. If you want to avoid the painful questions, does Champagne go bad, proper storage is vital.
Like with other wines, if you’re not drinking it right away it’s best off stored in either a pantry or a cellar. A refrigerator also does the job, but it’s not a must. Basically, you’re in the clear as long as the Champagne is in a colder, dry space with little to no drastic changes in temperature. A really useful bit of information to remember, while you might already be doing it without realizing its importance, is to place the bottles on their sides. This keeps the cork wet, which prevents it from creating those pesky holes that get the air into the Champagne and ultimately ruining it much quicker.
If you decided on storing away an opened bottle in the fridge, remember to tightly close it back up with the cork or even a wine stopper if you have one. Even though it’ll last a bit longer this way, it will still only be a few days, so make sure to drink it all as soon as possible!
Some people rightly feel that losing bubbles is the equivalent of letting your Champagne go bad. That’s a little different than wine oxidizing, but a sparkling wine with no sparkle just isn’t that same. You can keep the bubbles a little longer by dangling a metal spoon in the open neck of your bottle. Then place the bottle in your fridge. The metal will keep the neck of the bottle colder than the rest of the bottle. That cold air blocks the gases from leaving your bottle. Hence, more bubbles for you to enjoy the next day!
– Gregg McPherson at California Winery Advisor
Do all wines get better with age?
This is a good question because most consumers believe that all wines improve with age. It would be nice if they did, but most wines produced today are made for early drinking rather than for aging. They are made to enjoy soon after purchase rather than stored in a wine cabinet or cellar. Therefore, they don’t substantially improve with age and in fact many have a very short shelf life, especially white wines and roses.
Whether or not a wine improves with age at all, depends on the type of wine and how the wine is aged. Red wines that have very firm tannins, like a youthful Bordeaux or Barolo or a wine made from Petit Verdot, are the most likely to benefit from extra time in bottle. However, as noted, today most producers intentionally make their wines, even big reds, for early drinking rather than aging in a wine cabinet or cellar. And they do this because that’s the way most consumers drink the wines—a very high percentage of wines are opened and drunk within a few hours of purchase.
White wines and rosés don’t have much in the way of tannins, and as a general rule of thumb don’t require aging. But some can still benefit from a little more time in bottle. A young, well-oaked Chardonnay becomes better integrated with at least a few months in bottle, and some varieties like Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner also evolve considerably in bottle over just 1-2 years. Also, while most rosés are best drunk young and fresh, those made from the Mourvèdre grape (e.g., Bandol) need at least a year of bottle age before they show their best.
-Mike Potashnik at International Wine Review
How long will my wine last if I close it with a wine stopper?
A question that gets asked all the time is “how long can a wine last with a wine stopper. This is a complex question because there are a variety of stoppers available on the market and it depends on how much wine is left in the bottle. Decorative stoppers, which are really nothing more than a cork with something cute on top of it (ie. a unicorn or a dog). These may have some sort of rubber to help tighten the seal. A second type of stopper is the vacuum seal stopper. These typically look more like a cap instead of a cork. They come with some sort of pumping device to suck the oxygen out of the bottle.
Before we get into the answer, let’s talk about why wine goes “bad” after it is opened. The answer to that is oxygen. Although a small amount of oxygen can improve the taste of the wine by breaking down the tannins and allowing the aromatic compounds to be released, too much oxygen leads to oxidation which is the breakdown of anthocyanins and phenols and lowers the quality.
Placing a cork in the bottle will slow down this oxidation. I would recommend consuming the wine within three – five days if only using a cork and it is a red wine. Oxidation is more noticeable in white wine, so I wouldn’t expect it to last more than three days. Placing the wine in the refrigerator can extend that time to potentially a week and leveling the field for both red and white. If you choose to purchase a stopper that vacuum seals the wine, that will slow down the process even more, since you are eliminating the residual oxygen that is in the bottle. I think one week if the wine is left on the counter but if placed in the refrigerator it could last up to two weeks.
-Lori Budd at Exploring the Wine Glass
How can I know if my wine has gone bad?
The wine in your glass exists in a temporary state, somewhere between grape juice and vinegar. However, all wine will eventually go bad, as exposure to oxygen starts to interact with its natural chemical compounds. A bottle that’s been open for several days and that’s starting to turn will primarily lose its freshness. What used to be aromas of ripe strawberries or zesty lemon will become muted and dull. White wines even begin to express nutty, or oxidized aromas. You can find these qualities, not only with bottles that have been opened for a while, but also in an unopened bottle that’s had time to age past its prime. Along with the aroma turning, you can also see peculiar coloration. White wines may take on a darker yellow appearance and red wines will have a brick-red or brownish hue. You expect these colors in aged wines, but not in a recent vintage. The third and ultimate test is to taste it! If a wine has gone bad, the flavor profile will be more vinegar-like than usual and will result in an unpleasant drinking experience.
-Erin O’Reilly, contributing author for Gold Medal Wine Club
What makes a good wine cellar?
There are many factors that make a good wine cellar. For example, it should be dark, well ventilated and protected from strong sounds, vibrations and odours. However, it is not always easy to comply with all the ideal check-list, so if I had to point out the determining aspects that make a good wine cellar, I would say that, first of all, it is essential that the bottles of wine are kept in a horizontal position, so that the cork remains well moistened and does not expand.
On the other hand, something essential to bear in mind is that the ideal temperature for storage is between 12 and 14 degrees. The higher the temperature, the faster the evolution of our wine will be in the bottle, so keeping it at a low temperature will allow our wine to have a longer ageing period.
However, the most fundamental thing as far as temperatures are concerned is that there should be no fluctuations at all, as these cause the cork to expand and contract, resulting in wine leakage, which is a terrible thing that we must try to avoid at all costs. Therefore, if a person does not have a special fridge for wines, it is preferable to store them at a higher temperature than the ideal one, but making sure that there is no pronounced temperature variation.
– Claudio Comella at Gourmet Hunters
What’s the ideal way to store Prosecco?
Store Prosecco (and all sparkling wine) in a cool dark place and away from direct light. The storing temperature should be mild but more importantly consistent. If you plan on drinking the Procseco within the next month or so store it upright. If you plan on doing long term aging, store it on its side.
Tip: if you want to store it for a few days after opening it, use a balloon to keep the bubbles locked in.
-Monique Soltani at Wine Oh TV
What’s the best way to organize my wine cellar?
Congratulations on having a wine cellar – while young wines are delicious on their own, they often evolve with age, becoming more complex and more enjoyable after some time in the cellar.
It is important to note that you don’t have to designate a separate room and spend tens of thousands of dollars on mahogany shelves and humidity control. As long as you have space with relatively low constant (!) temperature, absence of vibration, and no or limited direct sunlight, it will be your perfect wine cellar, whether located in the basement, spare bedroom, closet, or under the stairs. It is important though to keep your bottles with the corks in a horizontal position, to prevent the cork from drying up and letting the oxygen get inside the bottle – screwtop bottles can be stored just standing upright.
When it comes to the cellar organization, there is no such thing as the “best way” – you will need to find something which will work for you. Ideally, you want to know when you acquired the bottle. Sometimes, if the bottle was reviewed by the wine critic, that critic might suggest the range of dates for the best experience, something like “Best 2025 – 2040”, or “Drink after 2030”. You can acquire cellar bottle tags off Amazon or a wine catalog, and note this information on those tags, which will help you to decide what and when to open.
You can sort your collection by the region, or you can sort it by the grape type – as we often deal with blends, organization by the region would be more straightforward. Sorting further by the producer within the region would be best, as this way you can easily locate the verticals of the wines if you are ever in the mood for the fun wine tasting.
No matter what your cellar is or what wine is inside your cellar, the most important requirement is to enjoy the process and the wines! Cheers!
-Anatoli Levine at Talk-A-Vino
How long can I keep my wine in the fridge?
The amount of time an opened wine will keep in your fridge will depend on a wide variety of factors including the style of wine, the age of the wine, what grape varieties the wine is made from and how it has been and will be kept. Generally 2-5 days maximum will cover most types of wine in your fridge if they are not too ‘fragile’ to start with. For example if you have opened an older wine which is ‘delicate’ then it’s best to drink it as soon as you open it.
Ensuring your wine is sealed well, so the least amount of oxygen makes it into the bottle is best. There are plenty of good wine stoppers on the market if it’s not a screw-cap closed bottle.
If you’re really serious about keeping your wine in its most pristine condition after opening it, then a wine preservation system like Coravin is highly recommended. With a tool like Coravin, you can keep screw-capped wine for 2-3 months and bottles closed with a cork for many years.
If you want to keep unopened wine in the fridge, it’s best to invest in a proper temperature controlled wine fridge to store your wine so that your wines are kept at a stable temperature and away from light. Cool, dark and consistent temperature is the best for storing wines for a long period of time.
-Casey Bryan at Travelling Corkscrew
Does Champagne go bad?
First, I think you must determine if you have in your possession an authentic champagne and not just a sparkling or bubbly wine. That is not to suggest that other sparkling wines are not enjoyable, or of a poor quality. This could be a matter of personal taste and/or budgetary considerations. So for the purposes of this answer I am assuming that you have a bottle of authentic French champagne originating in the area north of Paris.
For the most part Champagne is not a wine to keep for too long. On average perhaps best to cellar for only 3 to 4 years. That being said there is always the possibility of exceptions. A particularly quality driven champagne may be somewhat viable up to 10 years, but why would you want to wait that long?
Possibly, the more expensive might be a determining factor. You do however experience some changes, most likely the champagne would darken slightly in colour, or you may lose some of the fizz, or effervescence. Again the quality of the champagne determines the chance of these changes. For most champagne drinkers you would expect to enjoy a bubbly experience and therefore it is best to target the lower projections of quality return.
Cellaring would also be a factor to consider. If you have a quality wine cooler you may expect a slightly longer period of optimum quality, or conversely if you are a wine collector with a temperature controlled wine cellar then you have an advantage. Unfortunately, for most “average” wine/champagne drinkers our opportunity to properly cellar the champagne is probably lacking.
For the most part champagne can be drunk immediately, no need to save it for anything other than your next special occasion.
-Valerie Van der Gracht at MyVanCity
What should I consider when buying a wine fridge?
How we store our wine is so important! Especially for the avid wine collector. There is nothing worse than waiting 10 years to open that special bottle than to have it damaged by fluctuating temperatures. Yikes!
These are a few of the things that I consider when making my wine fridge purchasing decisions:
- How many bottles do you plan to store in your wine fridge? Make sure you have room to grow! I try to purchase multiple bottles of a wine I truly enjoy. I love experiencing wine and noticing the development of flavors when they age in the bottle.
- Will your temperature controlled environment be used for aging purposes? Or will you be housing your daily drinkers? I personally use my wine refrigerator for aging wines. Some may prefer to house their daily drinkers (AKA bottles of wine you don’t mind opening on a Tuesday) to keep them at optimum serving temperature.
- Red wines? White wines? Both? Some companies offer dual climate refrigeration for the folks who’d like the best of both worlds. Red wines and White wines are best when served at different temperatures, depending on varietal. It’s good to be diverse and there is no exception when it comes to your wine fridge.
-Bryce Appleby at Fidélitas
Do screw cap wines last shorter than cork wines?
I believe there has been research done that proves that screw cap wines hold the same if not better than cork. It seems to me that the debate between the two is less about preserving the wine and more about the romanticized feeling and visceral effects of popping a cork versus unscrewing a bottle-top. For me a screw-cap is perfect when I’m outdoors or in a place where convenience is key. Pulling a cork perfectly out of a bottle in the context of a beautiful dinner with my wife and friends is certainly preferred from an experiential standpoint over a screw cap. Unfortunately I think it’s common for people to consider wines from a screw cap bottle to be a lesser quality but that is certainly not the case. It’s all about the experience that you’re looking for that will determine screw-cap versus cork.
-Naushad Huda at I Like This Grape
What is the perfect wine inventory for me and how do I best store it?
So you’re ready to build the perfect wine inventory? There’s a lot to consider, but firstly, make sure you start with what you can both afford and store properly. When it comes to wine, these are definitely NOT mutually exclusive.
Creating a wine collection that you can be proud of doesn’t require a huge initial investment assuming that you’re not buying the most expensive vintages. But whether your collection is large or small, any bottles that you will be storing for an extended period of time (even a few months) should be stored properly. It’s like buying a nice car and not getting insurance; it may not matter, until it DOES! So whether you’re a novice or expert or storing a dozen bottles or thousands, here are three key storage considerations to keep in mind:
Temperature and humidity: The ideal environment for long-term storage is around 55°F and 60% relative humidity. While some basements in northern climates may naturally provide these conditions, it’s more likely that you’ll need to actively condition your wine cellar using a wine cellar cooling system.
Protection/security: To physically protect your inventory, purchase full-depth wine racks that protect the entire bottle and do not leave the necks of the bottles protruding. Your wine room door should be insulated and sealed to maintain the desired environment. Further, if you have children, teenagers, or an extremely expensive collection, locks and/or a more elaborate security system may be in order!
Aesthetic and design: Last but certainly not least, think about how you want to present your wine. If you have a smaller collection, you may only need to store it in basic wood or metal wine racks or crates. If you’re a more serious collector, invest in a wine room that complements the beauty and style of the rest of your home. Don’t scrimp here: experienced wine storage experts are worth every penny.
Do your homework and search for a company like Vigilant that offers handcrafted standard and custom products, and offer solutions for any budget, a full staff of designers, and free online tools including catalogs, videos, and design tools for do-it-yourselfers.
The bottom line is that if you’re making a hefty investment in the wine itself, you’ll want to “protect your passion.” Select a storage solution that can accommodate your collection as it expands and good luck creating the perfect wine inventory!
–Wendy Formichelli at Vigilant
If I bought a case of wine, how long should I leave my wines inside?
This is a question that we get asked a lot, and which has a huge range of answers all of which are dependent on what wines you have inside your case. Broadly speaking, when it comes to storage, wine can be split into three groups. White wine, regular red wine and fine red wine. As a general rule, white wines need to be drunk sooner rather than later and typically are at their best from when they are bottled and for another year to eighteen months.
When it comes to red wines, they are definitely not going to deteriorate as quickly as white wines, and as a general rule, they should be drunk within 3-5 years (if you can wait that long!).
Finally, when it comes to fine red wines, such as those found in the Bordeaux region of France, some of these wines are not bottled for up to 3-5 years after they have been put in barrels. And then once bottled, they will need a further 10-30 years in bottle before they reach their best.
It is always best to speak to your local wine merchant to get advice on the particular wines you are purchasing. Remember that wines with cork stoppers should be stored on their sides so that the cork remains moist and to avoid the wine becoming oxidised. Wine should be stored in a dark environment that is not too hot and not too cool. The most important factor is that the temperature where the wine is stored remains consistent and does not oscillate widely. Happy drinking!
-Alex Edwards at York Wines
How can I know if my wine is produced for early consumption?
That’s easy! The vast majority of wine is crafted to be enjoyed upon release, so it’s fine to drink once you bring it home from the store. But don’t worry if the bottle sits around for a while. As a general guideline, most red wines will keep for five to ten years after the vintage date on the bottle, and most whites will keep for two to five years.
It’s important, however, to note the difference between wines that keep and those that age. Wines that keep, like the ones mentioned above, don’t change in the bottle during that time. They’ll taste more or less the same whether you open it now or in, say, three years. (Unless it’s gone bad, of course.)
Wines that age actually do change with time in the bottle, typically starting out as lighter with fruity flavors and evolving into a darker wine with more earthy notes. In addition, these wines often do need cellaring before opening, and tend to last for 10+ years in the bottle.
The great news is, these bottles are usually pretty pricey (think $100+) so they definitely aren’t the everyday wine you’ll pick up at the corner store.
-Kathleen Bershad at Fine Wine Concierge
How Long Does Unopened Sparkling Wine Last?
The aging potential for unopened sparkling wine depends on a number of factors. Like still wine, the ability to age without the flavor diminishing depends on the quality of the wine and winemaking. A $10 bottle of Prosecco doesn’t have the same longevity as a $100 bottle of vintage Champagne.
You can expect most unopened sparkling wine to keep well for three years, well-made sparklers can age for three to seven years. The very best Champagnes can age for decades. Proper storage is the key.
A golden rule is to avoid exposure to light. Light strike is when light from the sun or artificial light reacts with components in the wine to create unpleasant smells, such as rotten cabbage or eggs. The temperature should be a constant 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit without fluctuation. Sparkling wine shouldn’t be chilled until one or two days before drinking.
Unlike still wines, the angle of sparkling wine bottles doesn’t matter since the pressure inside the bottle will keep the cork moist and the seal intact. One thing that can damage the cork is low humidity, which can cause the cork to dry and crack. Ideally, the humidity should be around 70 percent. Vibrations also need to be avoided since they can trigger a loss in acidity and a dulling of the flavors.
-David Nershi at Vino-Sphere
If I want to age my wine do I necessarily need a wine cooler?
Some wines are purchased for immediate consumption while others to lay down and age gracefully. When wines are young, we taste their primary wine flavors such as citrus in Riesling or plum in Merlot that meld with secondary flavors from winemaking techniques like vanilla flavors from oak or buttery nuances from malolactic fermentation. But when wines age we begin to notice their tertiary potential, notes that come only with time like concentrated dried fruits. Honey, herbal notes, mushroom, stone, and earth also come to the forefront during the aging process as acids and alcohols react to form new compounds presenting as tertiary notes. Whites become more viscous and golden, and reds become smoother. Sounds enticing and worth the wait, doesn’t it? So, how does one best age wine and do I need a wine cooler?
Aging wine is an old-world technique practiced for centuries in underground caves or basements. So, if you have a basement, you likely do not need a wine cooler. However, it’s not that simple. Excessive humidity causes mold to accumulate around corks causing damage and taint. Too little humidity causes corks to crumble, permitting oxygen to enter the bottle and causing spoilage. So, evaluating your basement’s humidity is a worthwhile exercise and of course humidity can be easily mitigated with an inexpensive humidifier/dehumidifier. Bottles meant for aging require dark and cool storage around 53–57°F. A constant temperature without much fluctuation is desired to decrease the chance of volatile chemical reactions taking place. Similarly, ultraviolet rays can damage wine, so a dark environment is desired for wine again.
In the absence of a basement, I found my wine coolers to pay great dividends. Living in Arizona, few homes had basements, and ours didn’t. Knowing the importance of temperature, humidity, and UV light control, we found that a wine cooler was the perfect solution to collecting wine in Arizona. Initially, we purchased some small capacity coolers, but quickly ran out of space. Then, we invested in a 660 bottle capacity wine cooler, and when we filled it, we purchased another one with 400 bottle capacity. The smaller mini refrigerated units that hold 25-50 bottles or so, are reserved to hold those fatter Champagne or Burgundy bottles that don’t fit well into the slots of the larger wine cooler cabinets. It has been a great solution that has allowed us to age special wines that we have collected over the years – from our children’s birth years, to wines we hand carried back from winery visits.
For many wine lovers who become collectors, looking back on an older vintage brings back the memories of that year – where you bought the wine, what you thought to pair it with, and who to share it with. Not only will the aging process add finesse and complexity to the wine over the years, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that the wines have also appreciated in value.
-Christopher Colloca at Colloca Estate Winery
Can my wines be exposed to sunlight?
Preferably your wine should be stored in darkness. If you don’t have a cool dark cellar for storage then consider a wine fridge or wine cabinet. Wine cabinets do the important job of helping to shelter your wine from direct sunlight. Not only does this help prevent the bottles from heating up, but it also protects the corks and wine itself from the damage that heat and direct sunlight can do to them. Prolonged direct exposure to UV light can have an adverse effect on the tannins and chemical composition of your wine, and both heat and light can dry out a cork quickly.
Direct sunlight or incandescent light can adversely react with phenolic compounds in wine and create wine faults and lead to wine spoilage. Light-bodied white wines run the
greatest risk from light exposure. For this reason, they are often packaged in tinted wine bottles that offer some protection from light. Wines packaged in clear, light green and blue coloured bottles are the most vulnerable to light and may need extra precautions for storage. In the cellar, wines are stored in corrugated boxes or wooden crates to protect them from direct light .
So wine should not be stored in sunlight. If you must use light, it is best to use LED and not incandescent lights.
-Julian Park at BCWineTrends
What’s the best temperature to store my wine?
Here at Oastbrook we store our wines at a constant 13 degrees cellar temperature. That allows our wine to age at the correct temperature to ensure the right stability and ageing of our wines. We also monitor humidity to ensure that the corks in our wines do not dry out. We have found that some variation in temperature is okay but the rate of that change is critical. Big diurnal changes do have an impact on quality. All our wines are stored without any contact with daylight and our bottles are either green or amber coloured to avoid the impact of light strike.
-America Brewer at Oastbrook Estate Vineyard
What’s the best way to store screw cap wine?
The short answer—same as any other wine! When planning your wine storage you want to keep in mind two things, light exposure and temperature, both which will degrade wine over time. Wine is best stored in a cool dark environment, such as a closet or basement. However if you are keeping your wines in a basement be mindful of humidity levels in the summer. Wines under screw caps do not need to be laid down like traditional cork closed bottles as you don’t have to worry about the cork staying wet. So with a screw cap wine, find a cool, dark place, lay them down or leave them standing up, and let your wines age!
-Shelby Hearn at Suhru Wines
If I don’t have a wine cellar, where’s the best place to store my wine?
There are several options for those of you who don’t have an actual cellar.
- Rent a wine locker. Many wine retail stores or speciality storage facilities have temperature controlled storage space that you can rent very affordably. These often come with perks like exclusive tastings or membership features.
- You can always buy a wine fridge. They come in various sizes from holding 12 bottles to over 200. I had a 200 bottle one in my old home (which was very small) and it fit fine. This is a great solution if you want your wines on hand.
- If you live in a house with a basement, the constant cool temperature can also be a great place to either build wine racks (you can buy them ready to go) or just leave them in their cases (on their sides if the wines have corks to keep corks moist)
-Lindsay Pomeroy at Wine Smarties
Does wine have an expiration date?
The short answer is that it really depends on the wine.
In general, white wines should be enjoyed within a few years of their vintage. However, some winemakers create whites designed to be cellared, sometimes for decades. Examples include Rieslings with high levels of acidity with the ability to retain their structure while also developing many nuanced aromas and flavors only found in aged wines. White wines aged for an extended period in oak barrels, such as Chardonnay, can also improve with time in the cellar.
Some red wines, such as Beaujolais nouveau, are made specifically to be enjoyed when the wine is young. Most reds can withstand a few years tucked away on their sides in a cool, dark space. This ensures the corks don’t dry out, preventing excess air from getting in and spoiling the wines. Other red wines are created specifically to be aged, allowing more complex, layered flavors to develop and the tannins to better integrate. These wines are more expensive and often tout their ageability on the back label.
Many sparkling wines aren’t really designed to be cellared for more than a decade. Real Champagne, from France, is an exception. With a decade or two of proper cellaring, a well-structured Champagne with high acidity will retain its bubbles and also develop into what can taste like an entirely different wine.
Dessert wines, including Port and Sherry, are fortified with brandy and thereby preserved with the extra alcohol. Some can be aged over fifty years. Wines made with botrytized grapes, such as Sauternes, are also quite age-worthy, evolving into something spectacular after twenty years in the bottle.
When buying wine, whether at a winery, wine shop, or grocery store, ask how long it can be aged. Cellar it in a cool, dark location, like a closet, or invest in a wine refrigerator. Be sure to lay your aging wine on its side or upside down so the liquid touches the cork. Otherwise, the cork will dry out and crack, allowing air into the bottle, slowly turning your precious wine into vinegar. Cellaring wines for a special occasion can be addictive so don’t be surprised if your wine collection begins to grow! Visit Winerabble to learn more about wine.
–Michele Francisco at Winerabble
How long does opened wine last?
A colleague in the wine industry once remarked that opening a bottle of wine is a commitment – a commitment to finish the bottle before the wine spoils. This spoilage is called oxidation and is the inevitable result of the wine being exposed to oxygen. This life supporting gas quickly converts ethanol into acetaldehyde changing the wine’s appearance and taste — turning the wine brown and removing all traces of freshness. How fast this degradation occurs depends on several factors. Both sugar and alcohol slow oxidation.
The same is true for tannins – naturally occurring compounds that exist inside grape skins, seeds and stems. Barrel aging also increases a wine’s tannic structure. Thus a high alcohol, barrel-aged Zinfandel will last much longer than a low alcohol, fruit forward Beaujolais Nouveau. That being said, a younger Zinfandel has a longer shelf life than a well aged Zinfandel since the tannins in the later have softened leading to more rapid degradation. Finally, a wine with high acidity will appear to last longer even if the wine is becoming oxidized. Thus, as a general rule of thumb, white wines, fruit forward red wines, and well aged wines have a shelf life of one to three days after opening. On the other hand, sweet wines and most barrel aged reds retain their freshness for five days and perhaps can push a week. Cheers.
-Todd Godbout at Wine Compass
Wine keeping doesn’t have to be hard! Take all your space and wine inventory into consideration in order to select the best storage and preservation method for you. Don’t forget to follow the previous advice and remember: a glass of red wine a day, keeps the doctor away!