Not all things in life get better with age, but some things can truly transform with time. Great wine can transform in flavor and value if it is stored properly.
Why Cellar Your Wine?
Cellaring your wine is not a necessity; in fact most wines do not need to be cellared. But there are many high-quality wines that improve with age, where the maturation process will allow the wines to evolve to create new aromas and flavors as the wine’s chemical structure gradually changes.
Wine aficionados cellar their wines for a variety of reason, including investment, nostalgia, and to build variety around a favorite region or varietal.
When you’re investing in premium wine known for its flavor in the long-term, the best approach is to buy your wine directly from the winery so that they can tell you directly how long they think the wine will last. They bottle premium varieties which “get better with age” thanks to the right combination of sugar, alcohol, tannins, and acidity. If you want your future experience to actually be better than the flavor profile you know and love, cellar your wine.
How to Cellar Your Wine
Placing your wine away from heat and sunlight keeps your bottles from aging too rapidly and avoiding fluctuation in storage conditions are the two most important considerations. Beyond that, the right way to cellar your wine depends on temperature, humidity, lack of light, and lack of noise/vibration.
If you think of wine like a living thing, almost like yeast rising with bread, you can’t overlook temperature. The optimal temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit/ 13 degrees Celsius, but a range of 45 degrees to 65 degrees is acceptable for most wines.
The humidity in the cellar should stay high, with the number at about 70%. While higher levels of humidity do not hurt your wine, they can damage labels.
The final two considerations for cellaring your wine are light and vibration. Both of these should be kept at a minimum. Strong light actually impacts the chemical makeup of your wine, leaving you with an unpleasant flavor. Vibration also leads to chemical reactions. Storage in a wood case is recommended, as they help maintain the wine’s integrity for extended periods of time.
Length of Time for Wine Cellaring
Many winemakers intentionally craft their wines for long-term enjoyment. It also depends on your individual taste: do you prefer bolder, more youthful flavors or the mellow flavors of a more mature wine?
The ideal length of time depends on your own taste, the wine’s varietal, the format/size, and the vintage. Here are some of the baseline timeframes of popular varietals:
Light White Wines
Light white wines don’t require much, if any, cellaring. Typically you should plan to enjoy your Rieslings, Prosceccos, and Sauvignon Blancs immediately, or within a year.
Oaked Chardonnays, like Beringer Vineyards Private Reserve Chardonnay, can benefit from 5 years of storage.
Lighter red wine, like Beringer Vineyards Pinot Noir Carneros, typical should be cellar between 3-5 years for maximum enjoyment.
Merlot can benefit from between 5-15 years of cellaring, depending on the wine and your flavor preferences. For example, Beringer Vineyards Bancroft Ranch Merlot can benefit from at least 10 years of cellaring, but can go beyond 15 years if the drinker prefers prunes to plums.
When cellaring wine, people typically think of full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon with good reason. This varietal can benefit from decades of cellaring to help unlock flavors. Beringer Vineyards Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon will continue to surprise and delight after 20+ years of cellaring.
You can enjoy your favorite wines, right from home, as the winemakers truly intended when you follow the proper aging process. Cellaring contributes to a superior drinking experience with premium wines. Improve your knowledge of wine and your depth of appreciation with a commitment to wine cellaring.