Join Us & Get Wine 101 Course 75% Off

Is Your Wine Worth Cellaring?

Have a growing collection of wines and not sure what to drink and what to cellar? Or maybe you’d like to buy some wine to age? It’s not easy knowing how long a wine will last. Not to worry, below you’ll find guidelines to help you known when to cellar wine and when to drink it.

Cellar wine tags rose and red wine
Try using cellar tags to keep track of your wine.


Reality Of Most Wine

There is good and bad news. The good news is that you probably haven’t accidentally drank wine that you were suppose to cellar. The bad news is that age worthy wine isn’t particularly common. In fact, most wine (I’d even speculate as much as 99% of wine) is meant to be drank young. Only a tiny fraction of wine is actually designed to hold up and improve with age.

[superquote]99% of all wine should not be cellared.[/superquote]

For the most part wineries take the guess work out of aging by handling it during production. This gives you a ready-to-drink product that doesn’t require any additional time in the cellar. This comes with the side effect that most wine will actually start to deteriorate if aged! *eek!*


what is the best wine to cellar?

Check out this infographic of which wines cellar the best. It includes examples of both red and white wines.

How Long to Cellar Wine (infographic)


When To Cellar Wine

So if most wine doesn’t age well; then what exactly allows a wine to withstand the test of time? The science behind why a wine ages is often misunderstood and convoluted by marketing. The funny thing is, most people don’t know. Let me clarify.. We know how the structure of wine effects how long it will last. The sugar levels, tannins, acidity and alcohol influence how the wine ages. However, none of these elements by themselves can guarantee a wine will actually improve with age!

Certainly some winemakers have earned a reputation for creating wine worth aging, additionally, certain regions and certain types of wine age better than others. This usually comes with a high demand and cost. Every year professionals speculate as to the age-worthiness of vintages, producers and regions. Sometimes they are right, many times they underestimate or miss wines/vintages altogether. Ignore all the speculation and marketing blowhards. If you’re just getting started, don’t bother buying these ‘collectable’ wines and cellaring them.

Investing in Wine for Profit

If you’re reading this guide for advice then the above headline is misleading. It wouldn’t be fair of me to write a broad overly-simplified guide and pass it off as useful. Instead, I’m going to recommend a different philosophy – invest in wine for fun. Think about it. How rewarding would it be to build a private collection of your favorite wines? The worst case scenario is that you amass a collection of wine you love and you’re forced to drink it. What a shame.

When investing in wine for profit, consider storing your wine at a professional wine storage. The benefit to using a professional wine storage facility is two-fold: it will help endorse the provenance of your bottles and it will expose you to potential buyers.

wine cellar with bins and a pyramid of wine
photo by Bruno Morandi.


Which Wines to Cellar?

You should cellar premium wines ‘that you love so much you have to buy it’ by the case. Buy enough wine like this and you’ll find you have too much to drink and will need to start storing it. But wait, how will you know if it’s worth storing?

The smart approach is to buy direct from the winery and talk to them about the wine and how long they think it will last. They can definitely give you a good baseline for an expiration date. Whew!

Now the fun part, drink the wine you’re cellaring. Yup, you should try a bottle every 6-12 months and see how it’s evolving. If you put it in a cellar and ignore it for too long, you’re going to miss out on it growing up. Who knows, you might stumble upon a vintage that turns out to be a gem in the rough at an unexpected time!


Have space to fill? design by Wine Cellar Innovations

Have Space to Fill?

Avoid cellaring woes! Check out the Ultimate Guide to Starting a Wine Collection.

See Guide

Join Our Newsletter

Jumpstart your wine education and subscribe to the Wine Folly newsletter right now. Always awesome. Always free.

sign up free