Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Wine Storage and Aging is Small Stuff)

I have the dubious distinction of being both experienced in IT and in wine, which means I am in high demand at family gatherings and friend’s parties; if I’m not bringing a relative’s computer back from the dead, I’m probably answering some questions about wine.

Probably the most frequent wine question I get from friends (second only to “Why do I get headaches from drinking red wine, is it from the sulfites?” – my answer “No – it’s because you drank too much.”) is “How long should I age this bottle?”

The answer in almost all cases is “Until you’re ready to drink it.”

The vast majority of wine sold in the U.S. is meant to be enjoyed within six months of when you buy it. 99% of the wine that we buy everyday is just that – everyday wine. It’s not made to be aged, it’s made to be enjoyed while it’s young, fruity, and vibrant. As an Italian winemaker once told me, “if I marry a beautiful 30-year-old woman, am I gonna wait until she’s 60 before we make love?!?”

So much hoopla can be made over whether or not to age wine and how to store it, that it overshadows what 99% of winemakers want us to do with that bottle – enjoy it. If the people making the wine aren’t sweating the small stuff, why should we?

More important than when a bottle’s cork should be popped is where that bottle sits until you do the poppin’. But it’s only just – generally speaking, if you’re going to open a bottle of vino within six months of when you bought it, it doesn’t much matter where you store it so long as it’s on its side, away from strong odors and direct sunlight, and isn’t in a hot place or near something that vibrates a lot.

That sunny spot on top of your fridge? Not so good.

In a dark corner of the basement or under the stairs? Much better.

My advice: If that bottle was $15 or less, pour yourself a glass and chill out.


Joe Roberts is a Certified Specialist of Wine and author of the award-winning wine blog.

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