Wine Making 101: How Should I Age & Store My Wine?

Wine Kitz Pickering - Storing Wine

Many of us joke about “trunk aging” our wines on the way home from a bottling appointment – because the truth is that most wines made in-store are ready to enjoy as soon as you get them home from the store, no waiting required. 

Regardless of when you pop the cork, here’s how to get the most out of every bottle.

When You Get Home From A Bottling

Let your bottles stand upright for 5 to 10 days after bottling to allow the corks to expand and create a solid seal. Then, store your bottles on their sides until you’re ready to enjoy them. This will keep the interior side of the cork wet so that it won’t dry out, which is crucial for maintaining a proper seal and preventing wine oxidation.

After Opening A Bottle

Any amount of air in your open bottle of wine will cause your wine to oxidize or “go off” once it has been opened. Depending on the amount of air in the open bottle and the type of wine, you may notice that flavours change as early as 24hrs after opening – or, they may stay fresh for a week. Delay spoilage for longer by using a bottle stopper – especially one that provides an air-tight seal, like our wine screws – or a vacuum pump, to minimize air in contact with the wine.

Store open bottles standing-up – not on their sides – to minimize contact with air. Storing open bottles in the refrigerator may also help preserve desired flavours for longer. Another tip? Pour the leftovers into a smaller bottle (such as a 375mL “split” or ice wine style bottle) and re-cork it, or keep your wine in a collapsible PVC flask (like this one) that will allow you to keep the air out.

Long-Term Storage & Cellaring

For wines you’d like to enjoy later, aim to store them in the coolest, quietest, darkest place available in your home. The warmer the environment, the faster your wine will age, so opt for the basement or a cold storage room, if you can. Temperature fluctuations of more than 10°F / 6°C can also spoil wine, so you should also try to find a place that has a consistent temperature and humidity level, and preferably somewhere away from appliances that vibrate or hum (i.e., not next to a refrigerator or pump), since that kind of low-level movement can aerate the wine or stir up any sediment.

In other words: Keep it Cool, Keep it Dark, Keep it Still, and Keep it Sideways.

Are All Wines Suitable For Long-Term Aging?

Surprisingly, no.

Most commercial wines (from the LCBO) are made to be enjoyed right away. If you are looking to purchase wines to put away for a long time, ask a staff member for recommendations. Only a small selection of wines (usually in the Vintages section – but again, not all of these!) are appropriate for long-term cellaring.

Wines you make from our kits are best enjoyed within 2 years of bottling – though there are a few exceptions. Higher-end kits like our Sommelier Reserve and Passport Series wines will be best after at least 9 months and will continue to be enjoyable for 3-5 years after bottling. Port-style and ice wine-style wines are made to be aged, and will continue to develop for several years (they usually peak between 1-2 years, and can be enjoyed for up to 5 years post-bottling).

If you are making wine to age, please let our staff know. Our wines are low in preservative, but we can make adjustments if you plan to keep your wines for later enjoyment or longer aging. Again, just let our staff know.

Extra Credit

For more information about peak aging periods and shelf life of wines you make from our kits, check out this article on aging your wines & our FAQs.

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