Red wine is produced, consumed and enjoyed across the world, and is loved for its ability to be drank alongside a meal, or simply by itself.
Red wine is known for its ability to age well. However, it’s a common misconception that all wines improve from aging, or that an old wine indicates a good wine, as this is not always true. The aging process changes wine, and not all wines benefit from these changes.
Generally, cheaper wines do not benefit from aging, and taste better when they’re consumed at the time of purchasing.
The following is a rough guide for aging some of the most popular types of wine, but the vintage, region and winemaking style can all affect the aging process.
Bordeaux (8-25 years)
Cabernet Sauvignon (4-20 years)
Merlot: (2-10 years)
Pinot Noir (2-8 years)
Zinfandel (2-6 years)
So once you’ve selected your favourite wine, how can you make sure that it is stored and aged to its maximum potential? Read on to find out more!
How to store red wine
Storing red wine correctly is the key to preserving its taste, and its important for wineries and at-home wine lovers alike to make sure conditions are perfect.
Did you know the world’s largest collection of wine can be found in Moldova? The winery Mileștii Mici is home to over 2 million bottles of wine, with 70% of the collection consisting of red wine! The wine is kept underground in the Mileștii Mici tunnels that measure a whopping 200km in length, and while we’re guessing you won’t need to store a wine collection quite that big, we’re sure you’ll find our red wine storing tips below extremely useful.
1. Keep the temperature consistent
To avoid spoiling wine the temperature should not exceed 24°C, as this forces wine through the cork which causes air to be sucked in. Low temperatures do not affect the wine to the same extent, but should ideally be avoided.
An ideal temperature for a varied wine collection is 12.2°C, and this should remain as consistent as possible to ensure that the aging process occurs gradually. Too many fluctuations in temperature will cause the wine to age prematurely,spoiling the taste.
2. Keep away from sunlight
It’s vitally important that wine is kept away from light, especially direct sunlight, as UV rays can cause the wine to become ‘light struck’, which gives the wine an unpleasant smell.
Most red wines come in green or brown tinted bottles, which filter out some of the UV rays, but this does not mean that they’re fully protected from sunlight. Therefore it’s always advisable to store your wine in a dark room, like a cellar or pantry.
3. Lay the bottle horizontally
Wines which come in corked bottles need to be stored horizontally if they’re to be kept for an extended period of time.
By storing them on their sides, you ensure that the cork stays moist. Should the cork dry out, air will be able to reach the wine, corrupting the taste and negatively impacting the aging process.
4. Isolate the wine
It’s important to remember that the aging process involves the wine ‘breathing’. That’s why wines should be stored in an isolated area, and definitely away from anything which has a strong smell.
Over time, the smell will permeate through the cork and taint the wine. Good ventilation of your storage area will also help to prevent any musty smells from developing.
5. Store for an appropriate amount of time
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to make a note of the type of wine and how long it should be aged for.
Remember to consume the time within this time, as if you leave your wine for too long you risk corrupting the taste, as the fruity flavours become dominated by the acidity.
Still have questions on the topic? Take a look at the frequently asked questions below.
Does red wine go bad after opening?
Once red wine has been opened it will be drinkable for a number of days, but you may be pleased to know that it’s a good idea to consume it as soon as possible! Opened red wine should be left out at room temperature, and should be sealed when not in use.
Does red wine go bad unopened?
Yes, all wines have a ‘peak’ in the aging process, where the wine has matured to its maximum complexity. Once this is reached the wine will quickly deteriorate and will soon become undrinkable.
In fact, the oldest red wine in the world was found in the grave of a Roman nobleman in Germany, and is over 1,600 years old! We wouldn’t advise keeping your wine for that long!
What’s the best age for red wine?
The ideal age for red wine varies hugely between types, regions, even bottle to bottle and, even though there are rough aging guidelines, each individual wine is complex and will have its own unique recommended aging time.
If you’re buying your wine from a wine merchant, then it’s a good idea to ask them for advice on how long to store it. Otherwise, it’s advisable to do some further research depending on the type of wine. Luckily, many of the most common wines taste better when drunk immediately!