The post-holiday season is a time when giving and receiving can result in a nice stash of wine accumulating in your cellar. You may have received an intriguing bottle of your favorite varietal with a note to not open… for another decade! Rather than let your bounty of bottles sit on the kitchen counter, here are some tips for storing the gift of wine all year long.
Only 1% of the world’s wines are meant for “long term” storage. The other 99% is meant for consumption between immediate and up to 10 years. During that time, the way a wine is stored can help preserve the integrity of the product and encourage the long-term chemical reactions happening inside improving it with age.
Wines biggest ‘frenemy’ is Oxygen. Oxygen allows wine to ‘open’ when uncorked, allowing a wide range of aromatics and flavors to emerge. Prematurely introducing oxygen for long spans of time degrades and ‘spoils’ the wine.
Wine should be stored on its side
Keep in mind that long term aging is not a benchmark for quality. Many highly praised wines are not meant to age past 10-20 years — the chemical composition simply doesn’t hold up over time. The lack of prolonged cellaring possibilities does not impact the quality of a wine consumed within its proper stored lifetime.
National magazines and wine websites often note wines with the potential for long-term storage. When looking for a wine gift (or a gift for yourself) with delayed gratification in mind, consult these resources so you can buy now and enjoy later.
Age Worthy Texas Varieties Available At RE:ROOTED 210
2020 RE:ROOTED 210, ‘Dos Reyes’: This Texas High Plains blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot is one of the few wines that the Re:Rooted team bottles in traditional format. These two age-worthy, tannic, varieties will absolutely withstand the test of time. The name ‘Dos Reyes’, Two kings, was a nod to the Fiesta tradition of crowning two kings; King Antonio and El Rey Feo. These two grapes are certainly on opposite sides of the same coin and bring both complexity and balance when blended. $45
2019 Messina Hof, Sagrantino Reserva: One of the first wineries to plant this Southern Italian native in Texas, Messina Hof continues to wow palates with this structured and age-worthy wine. Best served with an hour of decanting and fatty cut of meat, this tannic variety does not hide it’s complex nature. $48
2019 Noblemen, Tannat: As one of many producers in Texas working with this fairly obscure grape, Noblemen is making wines worthy of space in your cellar. Tannat is a grape that offers the highest levels of tannin in red wine, which makes it a structural powerhouse. High tannins pair exceptionally well with fatty meats and will soften naturally with age. The nose has intense cedar, black currant, and cassis aromas. The body offers rich notes of black cherry and dark plum with hints of coffee, cola and licorice. $46
Bottles in a wine shop
Wines with a high level of natural acidity help slow the oxidation process. When you cut open an apple, the flesh begins to brown very quickly due to oxidation. Wine undergoes a similar ‘browning’. High natural acidity in wine helps slow the oxidation process much like lemon juice stops oxidation in fruit.
Tannin levels also help prevent oxidation. Tannins act like a “shock absorber” to process oxygen in a way that allows other chemical complexities to not bear the full brunt of exposure. Tannins are primarily gained from extended contact with the seeds of the grape and barrel aging. Storing wine properly allows tannin chains to be “used up” or broken, giving aged wine a softer, more nuanced body. White wines do not have the same exposure to the seeds and barrel age, resulting in low tannins. They are generally poor candidates for long term storage. For best results, try to consume white wines within three years of the date on the bottle.
Every collector dreams of stepping into a stone-walled underground cellar lined with cedar racks nestling bottles like sleeping baby bats in a cave. Sadly, this romantic version of the perfect cellar is simply not a reality for everyday urban living. A functional, practical cellar for storing wine can be incorporated into any home. These four simple rules will help save your wines from spoilage:
Find a cool place: Ideally wines should be cellared at 65 degrees. But here in Texas, following the rule of not exceeding 75 degrees is more practical. Find a spot that provides a stable temperature and avoid wild heating and cooling fluctuations. Wines stored in excess of 80 degrees can ‘bake’ in the bottle causing heat damage.
Find a dark place: UV light rays are damaging to wine. Find a shaded space away from direct sunlight. Green and brown bottles act as a UV filter, but prolonged UV exposure will harm the liquid in the bottle.
Bad Vibes: There are tens of thousands of complex chemical reactions happening in a single bottle of wine. Vibrations can speed up or deter these reactions from happening. Keep your wine collection away from heavy machinery like washers and driers, climate control systems and vehicles.
Going Sideways: Bottles should be stored on their side to maintain contact between the liquid and natural cork. Because cork is porous, it can contract when dry and allow unwanted oxygen into the bottle. For this reason, don’t allow corks to dry out. Keep your wine in a place where fresh, humid air can maintain the natural sponginess of the cork.
Navigating the Wine Aisle
One item not on the label of a bottle is for how long it should be stored. Price point can be an indicator of how long a wine can sit before consumption. The majority of wines that price under $30 are meant to be drunk within 1-5 years after the vintage date. Wines between $30 to $100 are meant to age for 5-10 years of the vintage date, though there are many exceptions. The quality of the bottle and cork can offer subtle insight as to whether the winemaker chose to invest in the longevity of the juice.
Jennifer Beckmann and her husband John own the Re:Rooted 210 Urban Winery in Hemisfair