This Week at the Shop: The Long Haul, aka Buying Wine for Storage

This Week’s Schedule:

Buying Wine for Storage:

Most of us think that keeping a cellar full of wine is an aristocratic throwback or an investment banker’s affectation and we buy wine for now! Most estimates from retailers and market research suggest 80-90% of bottles are consumed within 24 hours, and 90-95% within a week.

Cellaring a few bottles isn’t the preserve of the rich and famous. All you need is a dark and cool place. To learn the basics, read our wine storage basics. I keep my few special bottles stacked in a box in my office, away from the vents, and protected from light. Its not perfect, but it works to keep a bottle for an extra couple years or until I have a special occasion that warrants popping the cork on one of the special bottles. But, what should you age?

Many wines that will evolve beautifully taste gawky and awkward when young, and it can be hard to tell them apart from all the other gawky, awkward wines that will only go downhill from that state. Even experienced tasters can’t say with certainty how a wine will age, and no two bottles, even from the same batch, age the same way. Aging depends on luck and environment as much as it does on the wine in the bottle.

So it’s no normal that regions and producers with long records for ageing dominate cellars. In reds, that tends to mean Bordeaux and Burgundy, followed by the Rhône Valley, Piedmont (barolo, barbaresco), Tuscany (chianti classico, Brunello di Montalcino), and Rioja; for whites it means riesling from Germany, Alsace and Austria, chenin blanc from the Loire, and chardonnay from Burgundy, with dessert wines from Sauternes, Germany and Tokaj, and champagne, port and madeira also featuring in the mix. To this traditional mix, one can also add high-end New World wines such as Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentine Malbec, Australian Riesling, Oregon Pinot Noir, and Hawke’s Bay (NZ) Chardonnay. In reality, with today’s level of scientific winemaking and the emphasis on terrior, there are wines being crafted in every wine region that are likely to age well.