The benefits of long-term wine storage

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The benefits of long-term wine storage

The benefits of long-term wine storage

Around 80% of wine bought is consumed within 24 hours after purchase. But most wines benefit greatly from long term wine storage.

When you mature wine, you primarily do it, to heighten the experience of the wine to its full potential. Wine is a living breathing organism derived from fruits which is an organic material. Much like a fruit there’s a specific time frame where it is ripe and where the taste, consistency and overall appearance is at its full potential. 

The same can be said for wine, and by maturing younger wines, you create a better balance which in turn gives you a better wine experience. When maturing wine, you are trying to hit the perfect balance between the acidity, alcohol levels and the primary notes of the wine. 

In short, wine aging can be like transforming a caterpillar into a butterfly. 

Experiencing the balance and new nuances of aged wine will change your perspective of wine. 


Aged wine, where do I start?

A good starting point into trying aged wine and experiencing the different nuances a wine develops over time, would be to try something called a "vertical wine storage and tasting". Same producer, same variant, but different ages, this gives you the possibilities to experience the change in wine with age. 

What wines to choose for long-term storage?

There is a vast variety of wines to choose from, but a good rule of thumb is to choose wines from a "good vintage", but what does a good vintage entail? A good vintage is in short, a particular year where the growing and harvesting of wine was great regarding outside effects, such as mother nature and therefore celebrated with high ratings. Grapes are a natural produce which is very perceptual to weather conditions such as temperature and rain. Therefore, a good vintage is a particular year where the growing, harvesting, production and initial aging went very well.

So, when you are choosing a wine for long term storage, a candidate could be a wine from a good vintage, since the wine has been under optimal conditions and has developed nicely. That’s also why age does not directly match the pricing of wine within the same variety and producer. A bottle from the same producer and variant, from 2007 can be twice as expensive as a bottle from 1994 if the conditions fluctuate. 


There can be a lot of benefits to long-term wine storage. Not only are you developing new aromas and notes over time, the wine from that vintage itself is also becoming rarer and therefore the prices on some vintages will also rise. 

The rise in prices for aged wines can be justified in the time someone has kept the wine at optimal conditions and the chance to experience something rare and old. 

Bottles and labels 

If you have tried multiple wines from the same vineyard and variant, you will be able to experience the evolution and transformation the variant has undergone throughout time. In the individual taste, Subtle differences in labels, in bottle design and cork type, which makes for some great storytelling experiences.

When looking at vintage wine that has been in storage an important tip is to look at the "ullage" (the space between the cork and the wine), if the wine is at level with the bottle's shoulder, the wine might have gone through some sort of trauma during the aging and storage process. This can be caused by the conditions in which the wine was stored. If the temperature was too high, it might have caused the wine to leak or if the wine was stored vertically the cork might have dried out and allowed air to oxidize the wine. This is why you choose to age a wine horizontally for longer periods of time, in search of the perfect “ripeness.”

The cork

The corks condition is also able to tell a story about the age and in what condition the wine has been stored. Wine and cork are both living and breathing organisms, that means that they are susceptible to change in temperature, vibrations, and light.

Wine stored properly would have contact with the cork and therefore have stained the bottom of the cork and depending on how long the hue and color can change from brighter to darker. If the cork is dry, it means that air will get into the wine, and it can start to oxide and break down the wine. It can also cause the wine to seep out, so beware of aged wine with stains going down the bottle.  

Porous corks

With age the cork can become quite porous and difficult to open without breaking the cork itself. Therefore, it's best to be careful, take your time not to break the cork while opening. You can also use a special corkscrew like “The Durant” which allows you to grip the cork not only from the top, but also from the sides between the glass and the cork with help from two thin blades on either side. 

How to experience an aged wine

When you open an aged bottle of wine, there are 3 main areas to focus on, the appearance, the taste and the aroma of the wine. These will all evolve with age, and they tell a story. 

The appearance of the wine

When you open an aged bottle of wine, there are 3 main areas to focus on, the appearance, the taste and the aroma of the wine. These will all evolve with age, and they tell a story.

When looking at younger wines they will normally be more vibrant in color and a particular shine and or sheen to them. If you tilt the wine in the glass, you can look at the edge or the “meniscus” as it's called and if it looks watery it’s also a sign of a younger wine. 

To avoid opening the wine to early you can use a Coravin. The Coravin has a different variety of products that specialize in extracting wine from bottles while preserving the wine.

Why does wine fade, and what creates wine sediment?

Red wine absorbs its color from the skins of the grape during the winemaking process. During this process it also extracts a group of phenols, for example, Tannin. This is the phenol which is responsible for the flavor/feeling you get of moisture dissipating from your mouth, leaving it dry. 

As red wine starts to age, these phenols will start to attach to each other and create sediment, and this is what makes a red wine fade over time in storage. 
The older a red wine gets the more faded and darker it will get, and the watery edge of the “meniscus” will start to dissipate. 

When and how do you decant wine?

With older wines it’s a good idea to decant the wine, to reduce the sediment in the wine when drinking. There are many ways to decant a wine. Traditionally you would hold the neck of the wine bottle over a light and slowly start pouring the wine into a carafe, while looking out for sediment through the bottle neck with the help of the light. 

Today there are a large selection of brands that make wine decanters, removing the element of human error. An example of a high-end decanter could be the iSommelier, which does everything for you and you can monitor its progress via an app. A more analogue wine decanter could be the Pulltex-Decanter wine funnel with filter, which does the same thing but in a more traditional fashion.

Tasting aged wine

If your wine has aged well you want to taste a good balance between acidity, alcohol (warmth) and a distinct primary fruit. Furthermore, as the wine develops with age, a lot of the secondary notes will become more apparent. It should be like eating a ripe apple or orange, where the flavor is much richer, and the depth of flavor is a lot more apparent. 
If a wine is overly fruity almost like jam, it’s a sign of a younger wine but which could potentially benefit from aging, to bring out a better balance. 

With long-term aging of wine, the structure of the wine will start to change and become velvety. This enables you to taste more of the layers of flavor that the wine has. It can be compared to tasting whole milk (younger wine) to 2% milk (medium aged wine) to skimmed milk (long term aged wine), the younger wine coats your palette and is fattier and richer, which resides longer, where in aged wine the taste is lot more refined.

How does it taste if my wine is corked?

If a bottle of wine has a faulty cork, the smell normally resembles wet cardboard or a wet animal.

So, with long-term wine storing you also run a higher risk of the wine being faulty or corked, since it has resided longer inside the bottle. When the cork taints the wine, its normally caused by interaction of certain fungi or mold in the tree bark with insecticide or other contaminants. 

U might not get sick by drinking a corked wine, but the flavor profile will be way off what the manufacturer intended. 

Generally speaking, the chances of a bottle being tainted by the cork is one bottle in every case of six.

How do I start aging wine?

Well, there are a lot of things to consider when you want to store your wine for the long-term. So we have made an extensive guide on how to store your wine properly, where you can learn about how to store your wine optimally. But a wine cooler and a beautiful wine rack system would be a good place to start your journey. 

Accessories for aged wine

If you are interested in accessories that will heighten your experience with aged wine, then we have collected the accessories mentioned in this article, and a couple more that will help you complete your wine experience.

The Durand

A popular corkscrew that features 2 thin blades called the “Ah-So”  that will grip the sides of the cork in combination with the traditional “Helix” that makes it easier to remove porous corks from aged wine. There are many variants of this system, but The Durant is a popular favorite amongst wine enthusiasts and professionals.  

ISommelier and Pulltex decanters

A decanter is a very essential tool in pouring wine that has been aged for extended periods of time. It removes the sediment from your wine before serving, a practice that has been used throughout wine's history, but has been simplified and perfected over the years. 

Coravin - Opening and wine preservation system

Coravin has a different variety of products that specialize in extracting wine from the bottles without extracting the cork. Their Timeless series allows you to extract wine through the cork without opening the wine and adding argon gas, hence preserving the wine for years to come. 


In summery  

There are a lot of benefits to long-term wine storage. Wine matures and becomes more refined with time enhancing flavors and creates a better flavor balance in the wine. It’s a whole new wine experience where storytelling and history of the wine is just as much a part of it as the taste itself. 

If you have any questions in regard to long-term wine storage, you are more than welcome to contact us. At Wineandbarrels, our experts are always ready to guide you in your wine storage journey, completing your wine experience. 

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