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I'm planning storing some wine over a long period of time. I'm not sure about the exact duration, but I'm thinking of either 25 or 50 years.

What should be taken into consideration? Here's a list of what I can think of:

  • Material (stopper/bung/cork/screw cap/..)
  • Temperature
  • Humidity (might matter in combination with some stoppers)
  • Light
  • Orientation (lying down or vertical, something non-intuitive as upside down?)

Does anyone has experience with this or is it generally doomed to fail to store wine this long?

Update

Will this be managed storage [...]?

Yes, I'm willing to take actions regularly if necessary.

Also, what type of wines are you planning on storing (not all get better with time, and most can't take that much time).

An excellent point I actually was planning to include into the question but then somehow forgotten to: It is not decided yet (except for that it's going to be a red wine). if there's anything to consider with that, please let me know.

Unclear what you ask [...]

A bit of clarification: Since I want a good tasting wine after a long time of storage, I want optimal storage conditions. I came up with several factors that might be important to control, but there might be others. Any input on what the optimal conditions have to be helps, even if it is not included in my list of potential factors.

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Will this be managed storage (so that you can rotate the bottles every few months), or more along the lines of put it in a hole for 25 years and hope it's still good when you dig it up later? Also, what type of wines are you planning on storing (not all get better with time, and most can't take that much time). I just know those are factors ... I'm no expert on this. I know my stepdad keeps whole cases (ie. still in the box) stashed in his storage room for years before they get added to the wine racks. –  Joe Jan 8 '13 at 4:28
    
Unclear what you ask, you say "What should be taken into consideration?" so are you only asking what factors that should be considered, or do you also want answers to which stopper, temperature and so is best? –  Stefan Jan 8 '13 at 5:11
    
Interesting, just FYI, Stefan and Stefan are two different people :-) this might be a confusing thread :-) -Stefan Answering –  Stefan Jan 8 '13 at 5:17
    
@Joe & Stefan, updated [OP stefan writing ;-)] –  stefan Jan 8 '13 at 10:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted
  • Keep your wines between 45-65 oF (7-18 oC). Wine that is too hot will age faster and frozen wine can expand and push out corks or shatter bottles.
  • Keep the temperature relatively consistent: avoid large swings in temperature.
  • Keep the wine out of UV light (sunlight and some types of fluorescent light) which will age the wines faster.
  • Humidity levels shouldn't be so low that the corks dry out or so high that mold can form. Keep between 50-80% roughly.
  • If the wines are stoppered with cork, keep the bottles on their side to keep the corks moist. You don't want the corks to dry out and lose their seal. Bottles stoppered with screw caps or plastic cork don't need this treatment. However storing bottles on their side is pretty space efficient. (Also, it really sucks to remove a dry cork from a bottle of wine, which can be a problem if you buy cheap wine from places like Trader Joes where they are not always stored properly.)
  • Keep the wines away from vibration. (This is why storing wine on top of a fridge is a horrible idea, it's hot and shaky up there.) Excess vibrations can disturb sediment.
  • I've also read that you should keep wines away from strong odors because corks are porous. So maybe don't store garlic and vinegar with your wine collection.
  • Enclosure shouldn't matter a huge deal... if your wine stoppered with a cork is tainted, it was tainted before you aged it in your cellar for such a long time. Screw caps and synthetic corks prevent the taint from happening in the first place.
  • You don't need to rotate your bottles, which disturbs sediment.
  • Not all wines age well, especially many whites. (Although there are definitely whites that do age well.) I have suffered the problem of storing many of my own Sav Blancs for several years without tasting to make sure they were still good, then having to pour out several bottles when they were over aged. So if you have many bottles of a single wine, drink a bottle every now and again to see how it's holding up.
  • Finally, here's an interesting article I just read about aging champagne. Apparently it's not always a bad idea.
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+1 for reasons with each bullet point. –  SAJ14SAJ Jan 8 '13 at 11:52
    
I give myself -1 for failing to follow my own advice, however. I need to get some sun blockers for my wine racks. :) –  lemontwist Jan 8 '13 at 11:55
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This is exactly what I'm looking for: detailed instructions with reasonable arguments supporting it. Thank you! –  stefan Jan 8 '13 at 11:58
    
One more thing: wines in large bottles (magnums, double magnums, jeroboams) do long aging better than wines stored in regular-sized bottles. –  FuzzyChef Jan 10 '13 at 7:03
    
@FuzzyChef Interesting point, what's the reason for that? –  stefan Jan 10 '13 at 7:44

Lemontwist have very good advice, a few more thing to the list:

  • See wikipedia for a list that is from Jancis Robinson about what types of wine have as , as you can see very few wine reach above 25 years of max aging potential, and only one example reach 50 years (vintage port).

  • If you are to age for 25 to 50 years, you need really good wine. You cannot buy any fifth growth Bordeaux from any year and expect it to be good after 50 years, it needs to be a good wine and from a good vintage.

  • For 25 years and above if you have cork as a closure it will starting to be a problem, you should recork, I find 2 links Penfolds recork clinic which allows recorks after 15 years and one other site that suggests between 15 and 40 years. So recorking is important, especially if you aim over 20-25 years.

  • There is a big argument about cork vs. screw cap and aging, you can find evidence on the web about both being the best thing and the worst thing, I think both are OK, time will tell but screw cap seams to be just as good or probably better in tests, but you really do not have a choose, you pick wine, not closure.

Stefan, the answerer :-)

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Stefan: as far as I know, wines sealed with screw closures don't really age, due to the inability to exchange oxygen. Is there research which shows otherwise? –  FuzzyChef Jan 10 '13 at 7:01
    
Yes, but this is a very 'religious' issue. There is lots of research in Australia, the conclusion from there is that screw cap ages more constantly, i.e. two bottles with screw cap age the same amount, but with cork they age more differently. Also they do age 'less', or differently, especially white wine seams to be much fresher in screw cap. Also you have much less, if any corked/spoiled bottles with screw cap. It also matters a lot which type of screw cap you have. –  Stefan Jan 10 '13 at 8:27
    
@FuzzyChef See this link for one source. –  Stefan Jan 10 '13 at 8:50

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