Hello Winelovers! If you are here it is because you love wine or because you are beginning to dive into the wine world. Well, whatever the reason that brought you here, one of the frequent questions that we have all asked ourselves at some point is … Do all wines really improve over the years? Does the wine have an expiration date? And how long can I keep the wine once I have opened it?
I will try to bring some light to these questions and give you all the answers.
Well for started let me clarify this. There is a common misconception, that all wine will continue to improve with age. But, in fact, most experts agree that only 5-10% of all wine will improve with more than 1 year of aging and only 1% of all wine improves with more than 5 years of aging. This means that 99% of all wine we buy is meant to be drunk right now. This doesn’t mean that the wine will expire it. But, you shouldn’t purposefully age it, because you won’t be gaining any benefit from waiting.
When we say a wine is meant to be drunk now, we mean it is intended to be consumed within 1 to 5 years or so of buying it. After that time, the wine can actually start to deteriorate and lose many of the qualities that made it so delicious.
So, how do we know which wine should we drink immediately, which should be drunk before 5 years and which can we store for many years? Keep reading!
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUNG WINE AND AGING WINE
Unfortunately, there is a common misconception whereby people feel that a wine can only be of good quality if it has been aged for a long time. But the quality of a good wine depends on the type of wine it is and the various techniques that producers have used to create it. Young and aged don’t just refer to how long you can store the wine before it starts to lose its flavor and structure. It also refers to how long the producer aged the wine, in barrels, or through other techniques, before they bottled it up and shipped it out to the public. The simple rule of thumb is that if the wine was bottled young, it should also be consumed young. The opposite is obviously true for wines that were aged in production.
YOUNG WINE CHARACTERISTICS
The young wine is the one that, once the alcoholic fermentation has finished, is bottled. Usually, it is produced in the harvest of the year in particular. It is a wine that has to be consumed during the year, or, in a maximum period of two years. The young wine is characterized by having a floral aroma, typical of the vine in which it has grown, since it has not been stored in any wooden barrel or another container.
WINE RESERVE CHARACTERISTICS
Unlike the wine explained above, the red wine of aging, after the fermentation process, is left to rest in a wooden barrel for a year or so. After spends at least a year stored in the barrel, it is bottled and left to age a couple of years, approximately. Typically, it is a wine that will go on sale from the third year of life.
In Spain for example, wines labeled with ‘Reserva’ must be aged for 3 years with a minimum of 6 months of that time in oak barrels.
In Italy, each Italian wine region has a different definition of a Riserva wine. Most wines will be aged a minimum of 2 years to be labeled this way. But there are some exceptions, Amarone is aged for 4 years and Barolo must be aged over 5 years before leaving the cellar.
Besides, the wines can be consumed between ten and fifteen years after its production, as long as it is stored in the right conditions. Its main characteristics are that it has a ruby red color and, in its aroma, the smell of wood stands out due to its aging process in the barrel. Its flavor is stronger than young red wine, it has more body and consistency.
Not all the countries have rules regarding Reserve thought, but the characteristics are quite similar.
These are the main differences between young and reserve wines. Now you know how long you should wait to drink it and how long it can be stored. Next, we will explain how you should be storage your wines to preserve the quality and flavors.
The wines you buy at your local grocery store or convenience store are usually wines that fall into the “drink within one year” category. If there is no expiration date listed, then check the vintage date. The vintage date is the year that the grapes were harvested for that particular bottle. If you have a bottle of red wine, add 2 years. For white wine, add 1 year, and for the Fine wine:10-20 years. It is important to point out that this will only apply if the wine was stored properly. So keep reading to know how to do it right to preserve the quality of your bottle.
HOW TO STORAGE WINE PROPERLY
Even if you haven’t opened a bottle, wine deteriorates much faster (4x faster, as a matter of fact) when stored at room temperature (around 70 degrees) than in a cool, stable environment. Even more, a bottle of wine should be kept away from direct sunlight because the sun’s UV rays can degrade and prematurely age wine. It’s also important to keep your wine bottles in a place that won’t shake or vibrate the juice inside. So better you forget to keep your wines on the top of the fridge or next to the window.
So, in conclusion, follow these two rules:
Keep the bottles lying on their side:
It is the best if you expect to store the wine for a prolonged period, like more than a year or two. This way the cork stays moist and doesn’t dry out. A dried-out cork can contaminate the wine with some cork particles and let the air in, both of which negatively affect the quality of the wine. For short-term storage, the wine can sit upright, and the cork should be just fine
Store them in a cool, dark place:
The temperature needs to stay relatively consistent, ideally between 50 – 60 degrees, between 50-75% humidity and away from direct light. If you don’t have a cellar or cool basement, purchase a small, inexpensive wine cooler to store the bottles you’d like to last longer than a few years. Otherwise, a dark cupboard in the pantry or kitchen will do just fine too.
How long can you storage Natural wines
The rules for Natural wines are the same ones that for regular wines. There is a common belief that the Natural wines have the shortest life period than the conventional wines. This is a misconception that born because the Natural wines use a very low amount of Sulphite. And the sulfite is used to preserve the flavors in the wines, once bottled. Despite using a little amount or sometimes don’t use it at all, Natural wines can be preserve for years as well that the conventional wines. This usually seems to be down to the skill of the producer, starting with really healthy grapes and allowing the wines time to mature and stabilize properly before bottling.
SIGNS THAT YOUR BOTTLE IS SPOILED
If you failed to follow the previous advice, it could happen that you ending up with one of these situations, maybe with all of them.
Color of your wine change: Relatively the newer Red vintages turned brown and white wine tends to become yellowish-brown.
A cork slightly pushed out from the top of the bottle (meaning it was incorrectly corked or has become overheated)
A distinctively unpleasant smell (musty, vinegary, wet paper)
Wine that tastes like mold or mildew
Okay, now you know the best ways to keep your wines in good condition for a long time. But, how long you can preserve it if you already opened it? Well, keep reading!
HOW LONG THE WINE WILL LAST ONCE OPENED?
In general, wine lasts one to five days after being opened. The key is minimizing how much oxygen touches the surface when you store the open wine. Oxidation is wine’s worst enemy. Exposure to oxygen will lead to wine losing its flavor, giving it an unpleasant taste and a vinegar-like smell. Oxygen raises the levels of volatile acidity in wine by accelerating lactic acid bacteria and wild yeasts. The purpose of the cork is to keep oxygen away from your wine, which is why you should store your bottles horizontally to keep the cork moist and preserve the seal. Once the cork has been removed, the wine is exposed to oxygen and the countdown begins. The best way to keep wine after you’ve opened it, is to remember to recork it and put it in the fridge. By recorking and refrigerating, you’re limiting the wine’s exposure to oxygen, heat, and light.
Here you have a quick guide
Natural Wines 2 – 3 days
Natural wines won’t last as long once opened as well as organic or sulfite-free wine that is more fragile due to its lack of preserving agents. Try to drink these wines within three days of opening.
White wines 2- 3 days
White wine fresh fruit flavors and floral aromatics depend on freshness, will quickly fade after the bottle is opened.
Chardonnay, Viognier, Trebbiano, White Rioja, and others — celebrated and loved for their richness and fullness — already come across a fair amount of oxygen during the aging process they undergo before being released.
Sparkling wines 36 hours
These wines get their character from their fine bubbles, and to drink Champagne or Sparkling wine without them, is never going to be much fun.
Red wines 2- 5 days
If you are the kind of person who likes to savor their wines slowly, then red wines are definitely the ones for you. The majority of bottles of red will be absolutely fine to drink up to five days after they’re opened, so long as they are stored sensibly – in a cool place out of direct light. Lighter bodied reds, however, such as Burgundy and other Pinot Noir or Sangiovese based wines, are going to lose their structure far more quickly than the big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz numbers. As such, these will probably be best drunk within two or three days, due to the fact that they will go flat rather more rapidly.
Fortified wines 4 to 5 weeks
Fortified wines, like Port and Sherry, are the toughest on the list, for one very obvious reason: they have a higher alcohol content, being ‘fortified’ with grape spirits, and they have a higher sugar content, too.
Tools to preserve your wine longer time
If you want to keep your wine for a long and extended period of time, then it’s best to invest in a vacuum pump wine preservation. You can get it online.
As you can see, each wine tells us its story: where it comes from, how it was created, and what is part of it. Now you know the basics to preserve your wines longer, even where they were opened.
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