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44 Live: Past Present and Future

Wine Aging and Storage

Commonly asked questions:

  • What are some of the greatest factors that determine a wine’s aging potential?
  • Can wine reach a peak time stored and when do you know if it goes bad? Can a wine “go bad?”
  • Do we have any wines we’ve created in past years that are going to be good today?
  • If you could give one tip about storing/aging wine, what would it be?

Wine aging and storage is a topic constantly evolving and, especially in Wisconsin, is still being studied. As with every wine topic, there’s discrepancies based on varietals, regions and climate. 

Less than one percent of all wines produced are meant to be stored more than five years. A general rule of thumb is if the bottle costs $30 or under, it’s meant to be consumed when purchased.

This does not mean that wine necessarily goes bad, but the flavors intended by the winemaker alter significantly with time. Several factors influence how a wine ages including, storage temperature, wine bottle shape and chemistry and cork chemistry.

The main reason stored wine may be purchased because it represents a moment in time, whether that’s an amazing harvest, a special anniversary, or a historically significant year. A wine’s aging potential is another way to determine if the taste will improve with time. The ratio of sugarsacids and phenolics (tannins) to water is a key determination of how well a wine can age. The less water in the grapes prior to harvest, the more likely the resulting wine has greater aging potential.

When storing wine, wine expert Karen MacNeil, recommends keeping wine intended for aging in a cool area with a constant temperature around 55 °F. 

As with all components of wine there comes that degree of balance necessary to maximize every bottle. An easy way to find out if a wine should be stored or not is to contact the winery and ask. Cheers!

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