How Long Does A Wine Keep?

 

The people who head to the store on the way home to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner have it right.

 

Most wine – and by “most” I mean 95% of it – is meant to be enjoyed, if not shortly after purchase, then within 12 to 18 months of the vintage date.

 

You would think that this fact would take the anxiety over when to drink a bottle.

 

But, hey, people get anxious about wine, and there is always some bottle that seems worth hanging on to, safely stored in a special place for a special occasion.

 

Too often, though, the result is a bottle that gets forgotten, pulled out to enjoy only after the fruity, luscious juice inside has become more vinegar than nectar.

 

So, here are some guidelines for those who feel the need to quell the question, how long can I store it?

 

Cabernet Sauvignon:  With its tannins, this is among the best-ageing wines out there.  Bottles will keep for 7-10 years.

 

Pinot Noir: Consume within 5 years.

 

Merlot: Keep no more than 3-5 years.

 

Zinfandel: This red wine will last for 2-5 years.

 

Ageing is typically a red wine’s game; most whites don’t have the tannins to keep for more than 18 months or so.  Among the more age-worthy whites:

 

Chardonnay: 2-3 years.  Better ones can keep for 5-7 years.

 

Riesling: Generally 3-5 years, though the very best can have a longer lifespan.

 

Sauvignon Blanc: Drink within 18 months to 2 years at the latest.

 

Pinot Gris: Enjoy within 1-2 years.

 

And Champagne?  The Champagne houses do the work for you; even vintage bubbly is released at its ready-to-drink point.  Though there are some that will continue to develop in the bottle, treat Champagne as you would any other wine:  pop the cork and enjoy!

 

 

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