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Here are some general guidelines:

Since wines vary greatly by fruit, acidity, and tannins, there are some general guidelines on how long to store different types of wine as a rule of thumb. Here’s a great little list from Fine Wine Concierge:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: 7-10 years.
  • Pinot Noir: 5 years.
  • Merlot: 3-5 years.
  • Zinfandel: 2-5 years.
  • Chardonnay: 2-3 years. Better ones can keep for 5-7 years.
  • Riesling: 3-5 years
  • Sauvignon Blanc: 18 months to 2 years
  • Pinot Gris: 1-2 years.

Longer is not necessarily better when it comes to wine.

The typical mindset of many is that reds can and should be stored for a long time, and get better with age, but this isn’t necessarily true across the board. As a matter of fact, the biggest misconception is that you must age the wine. The reality is, most people drink, and very much enjoy, their wines when they’re still quite young, which is considered 12-18 months after it’s been produced. For many, they are pleased with the taste at that time, and the wine is very drinkable. The challenge is that some people, unsure of how long they should store wine, store it for too long; it then becomes undrinkable and a great bottle of wine has gone to waste. If you’re unsure about how long to store your wine, feel confident in knowing that for the most part, any wine you buy today is perfectly enjoyable from the day you purchase the bottle.

Some wines DO get better with age.

So does that mean you shouldn’t store wine at all, and all the advice about how long to cellar wines is misleading?  Not at all! There’s a reason people build luxury custom wine cellars for a reason, and that reason is to store their fantastic wine until it’s ready to drink (or they’re ready to drink it). And the truth is, some wines DO get better with age. The key is knowing which wines get better, and how long you should cellar your wine for. Red wines are generally considered better candidates for aging. A good rule of thumb is this: the more expensive the wine, the more aging potential it has. Wines with more tannin will benefit more from aging; those that are fruity with little tannin will see little benefit from aging. Only wines considered “premium” get better with age and most wine collectors can’t see much of a difference, though the chemistry will change.

It’s more about the wine room conditions than just laying it down.

Storing wine, whether you do it for 12 months or 12 years, is more about how it’s stored than how long it’s stored. Climate control is a critical aspect of any wine cellar. Maintaining the correct temperature in a cellar will preserve your precious investment until it has reached its optimum age for consumption. If you do nothing else, invest in a quality climate control system for your custom wine room. There are a few other tips to keep in mind as well.

Below is a brief checklist of what to keep in mind when storing wine:

  1. Keep the temperature consistent
  2. Keep it cool but not cold
  3. Don’t expose bottles to excessive light or sunlight
  4. Watch the humidity
  5. Store bottles on their side
  6. Store bottles in an area where there’s little vibration

While most wines can be enjoyed right after being purchased, the above information can help those who need to understand how long you should keep the wine in a wine cellar. Salud!

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