There are two big myths about wine—that any good wine will benefit from aging…and that it costs a bundle to store it so that it ages properly. Neither is true. Most wine today—about 90%—won’t benefit from aging. It is best when drunk within a year or two of bottling. 

But even if you’re just storing wine for a few weeks or months, you can ruin it. To avoid that…

Don’t store it in the kitchen. Countertop wine racks are convenient, but heat ruins wine—and the room you cook in usually is the warmest in the house. Wine can bake…and taste stewed. Telltale sign: A little wine has seeped out of a corked bottle. That’s heat pushing the cork up. 

Keep it still. Skip that wine rack on top of your refrigerator, too—when the motor kicks on, the bottle vibrates, and over time that movement can spoil the wine. 

Keep it away from windows. Sunlight is wine’s enemy because it brings heat. You’ve probably seen expensive wine-storage furniture in someone’s living or dining room next to a sunny window—not good!

Storing Wine Well

Wine refrigerators have a place, but if you’re storing wines for up to a year or two, you can do it quite well for free. 

How? In a closet! Most closets work fine as long as they don’t get hotter than the mid-70s (so no bathroom closets or those near heat pipes). Ask your wine store for a shipping box, stack it on its side and slide wines into the slots. Plastic or wooden crates work well, too. A wine rack is fine, of course, either in a closet or in another dark, relatively cool spot. 

Wines Worth Aging

Certain wines do get better with age, especially expensive reds (those that cost more than $30) and some chardonnays. The fruit becomes less intense and the wine deeper and richer. Unless it’s a “great wine,” though, don’t store it more than seven or eight years—after that, the wine will start to fade. 

For keeping wines more than two years, a wine fridge is worth it, and you can get one that holds 24 bottles for about $200 to $300.

Some of my favorite affordable wines that actually get better with age…

  • Any zinfandel blend from Ridge Vineyard (California). I especially like the Geyserville, about $40. 
  • Canoe Ridge merlot (Washington State), about $45. It will age about five years and become more interesting. 
  • Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc (California), about $28. This white blend could improve in about four to seven years.

Related Articles