Factors that affect aging
There are good reasons to age wines. Cellaring time allows all of the elements in a wine to integrate. Acids mellow out, delicate fruit aromas emerge, and oak can integrate. The result is often a more balanced, pleasing drink. Follow these guidelines to get the most out of aging your wine.
A clean and intact bottle is critical. Before sanitizing, inspect each bottle for foreign matter such as mould or dust. A wine bottle should be clean to the eye prior to the sanitizing step. Additionally, check bottles for chips or cracks, especially around the opening. Compromised bottles should be recycled.
Exposure to natural light can, over time, deteriorate wine. Ultraviolet radiation causes photochemical reactions that result in off-flavours. Keep your cellar dark when not in use. Dark-tinted bottles help a little, but are not a complete solution.
Humidity is only a factor if you are using natural cork products to seal your wine. Aim for 50-70% humidity. Too dry, and the cork will dry up, releasing its contents. Too humid, and mould will grow on the cork. If humidity control is challenging for your cellar, we recommend using a synthetic cork rather than natural.
Temperature control is very important. Ideally, you want your wine to be stored between 10-15°C, and never over 24°C. However, consistency is more important than the particular temperature. Wine stored in a place with diurnal temperature variation will oxidize and spoil much more quickly than wine stored in a place with consistent temperature.
As mentioned above, synthetic corks are less sensitive to variations to environmental conditions than natural corks. Additionally, the length of the cork matters. A longer cork is suitable for longer aging.
Our default cork in the winery is a #9 short agglomerated cork. This is suitable for most applications (aging up to two years). If you plan to age your wine longer, ask for a long cork.
Sulphite is a natural antioxidant produced by yeast during fermentation. Additional sulphite salts are added to wine to extend the shelf life. We add about 50ppm of sulphite to our wines, which is much less than is typically used in commercial wines.
We can add extra sulphites by request to extend the shelf life of wine.
Some wine drinkers are concerned about reactions to sulphite. While sulphite allergies do exist, they are exceedingly rare. People who suffer from sulphite allergies cannot consume nuts or dried fruit, which have much higher levels of sulphites than any wine.
A more common allergen found in wine is a group of compounds called tannins, which are histamines. There are more tannins in red wine than in white, and these compounds may be responsible for why some people experience a headache after a glass of red wine.
Wine is like people; time adds maturity, but too much time can push it past its prime. Wine does improve with age indefinitely. Too-old wine will oxidize. The fruit notes will mute and disappear. The acidity will drop to unpleasing levels. The alcohol will eventually turn to vinegar.
Ask your wine expert about the optimal drinking window for your wine. For many styles, only a small amount of aging is beneficial (3-6 months). For others, they may continue to improve for a while (12-18 months). Extended aging is not appropriate unless the wine was designed for that from the beginning.
In terms of shelf life: with typical home storage conditions, the shelf life of your wine is around 18-24 months. With very good home storage conditions, expect a shelf life of 3-4 years.
- When wine is corked, keep the bottles standing up for 3 days to allow time for them to seal properly. Then, store the bottles on their sides.
- After you empty a bottle, rinse it thoroughly with water (never dish soap) and store it upside down in a wine box.