One of the greatest misconceptions perpetuated about viniculture is that all red wines are specially formulated for ageing and white wines can only be consumed immediately after purchase. The truth of the matter is that only a small proportion of mass-produced wines—including both red and white varietals—are intended for long-term storage. Most vintners anticipate that the grand majority of their products will most likely be consumed within a short period of time; therefore, a lot of modern wines have a short shelf life.
Of course, as all wine connoisseurs know, certain wines improve tremendously with age. It’s just a matter of creating the ideal wine-storage environment in a cellar or elsewhere, allowing your collection to thrive, and knowing which wines are worth saving for a later date.
How Long Can White Wine Be Stored?
There is no simple answer to this question because, ultimately, there are numerous mitigating factors that come into play when storing white wine for indeterminate lengths of time. You need to take the following things into consideration when trying to determine whether you should age a white wine:
- Grape varietal
- Region where the grapes were harvested
- Climate of those regions
- Level of acidity
- Sugar levels
The type of grape, how long the grapes are fermented, as well as the climate in which they’re grown all affect the level of acidity and sugar content of the wine. Colder climates make for more acidic flavours and higher sugar levels, which inevitably raises the alcohol content of the wine as well. White wines that contain high levels of acidity and sugar can last anywhere from three to five years while wines harvested and fermented in cold climates can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years given the proper storage conditions. These wines typically have fruity notes and the high alcohol content prolongs their preservation over time.
How Long Can Red Wine Be Stored?
Storing red wine is a little bit different than white wine. People tend to believe the fallacy that red wine needs to be aged for many, many years before it can be relished. In actuality, about 99% of wines are meant to be enjoyed as soon as possible with only a few exceptions.
Light reds such as rosés often have overwhelmingly fruity notes, and reds are best kept in cool environments. Unlike bold and more complex wines such as Bordeaux, light reds don’t benefit from long storage periods. In fact, if they’re stored for longer than two years, you run the risk of spoiling them. In contrast, the darker, bolder flavours that contain more tannin tend to flourish the longer they reside in your wine cellar.
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