Mofo need-to-know | Storing and ageing wine
Don’t sweat on storage - here’s the key need-to-knows when it comes to keeping your collection in peak condition for when you’re ready to break out a bottle and pour a glass.
Keep ‘em cool, calm & consistent
This is the one killer storage tip for any wine you’re planning to enjoy at any time - all that’s really needed when it comes to proper wine storage is cool, calm, consistent conditions, though it’s especially important if you’re looking to set something down for the long term. An ideal atmosphere would be cool (without a huge range in temperature shift), slightly clammy and dark - if you don’t have a wine fridge, a dark cupboard (or even a shaded corner) not set against an outer wall or source of heat/vibration is a winning location.
So where should I store my wine?
Think of your bottles as sleeping beauties. You’ll want to find somewhere cool and dark where they’ll be comfortable, and won’t be disturbed before you’re ready to wake them. Sssshhhhhhhh. Bright lights, heat and movement are all going to prematurely meddle with what’s inside - so if you don’t have a cellar handy (lets face it, who does?), pick a place away from where “life” usually happens.
Places like the kitchen or entry ways are often too bright, warm and busy even for short-term storage. A quieter room or corner is much better equipped for your bottles to nap.
And like a sleeping beauty, lie bottles down flat (a rack is perfect for the job). Bottles with cork closures need wine to be kept in contact with the cork to keep them moist.
What happens if I don’t store my wine properly?
Like any sleeping beauty, if a wine isn’t in a proper resting place it’ll get “tired” more quickly. Those delicious flavours are going to be a bit cranky - more sullen and muted, or even downright unpleasant. Especially true for cork closures, as if a cork dries out, it starts to let air into the bottle more quickly, oxidising what’s inside at a faster rate and meaning you might find you’re sipping on vinegar by the time you come to open it. Lying a bottle on its side means that the wine inside is going to be keeping that cork moist, and you’re not just relying on the ambient humidity of a cool place.
I’ve got this great bottle. When should I enjoy it?
Whenever you’d like to! Consider what you’re looking for though; generally, younger wines are fresher, fruity and more vibrant. Although older wines generally develop to become more savoury and complex, those kinds of flavours aren’t enjoyable for every drinker, or every occasion. So before you put a bottle of something you’re looking to save for a special occasion aside, think about what it is about the drop you’re looking to enjoy, and if you think those characteristics are going to improve with age.
Check out: Bric Cenciurio Barolo DOCG 2016
Aren’t older wines better though?
It’s an age-old question (literally), and the answer is “usually not”. Wine’s not legally required to come with a best-before date, but it’s mostly sooner rather than later. Most wines aren’t purposefully made to be aged any longer than a few years after release - and depending on the winemaker, may have already been aged in barrel and bottle at the winery. And like we said, developed, aged and complex wines aren’t for every drinker, or every occasion - it’s all about the flavours you enjoy and when you want to enjoy them.
How will I know how long a wine can be aged for?
Good winemakers (like the ones we buy from) and retailers (like us) provide an indicated drinking range or cellaring note along with the wine, with an idea of how the flavours might develop. We’re big fans of keeping it simple - open and drink your wine within the recommended drinking window and you’re likely to be getting it at its best.
Opening a great drop beyond its recommended ageing time runs the risk it’ll be spoiled and have lost all of those delicious flavours you’re looking for. It’s also true though that some bigger reds (classic Bordeaux, if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a drop) do need time to soften out to properly express themselves, but it’s never an exact science.
The easiest way to check if that’s going to be the case? Refer to the notes - or better yet, buy two bottles and try one now to see how it’s drinking. And always trust your palate - after all, you’re the one who’s going to be enjoying it when the time comes.
Check out: La Biòca Aculei Barolo 2017
Top tip: If you’ve decided to set something down for a bit, name and note when you’ll drink it (could be a range of dates, or a special occasion) and hold yourself to that.
That way you’ll make sure you’re enjoying it when you originally intended, and not deferring it for the next “special” occasion only to find that you’ve missed the window.
Remember you deserve to enjoy it it!
So want to know what’s good to age for a bit? We’ve taken out the guess work in the notes of our latest and greatest wines, available here.