During visits to the winery there are always people who ask us about how long a wine can be stored before drinking it. It is something that American fans ask above all. In wine magazines we find indications about when is the optimal time to enjoy a wine. There are even wineries that include a graphic on the evolution of wine on their back label, detailing its growth, its peak and the beginning of its decline.
It is evident that the more information the consumer has about the evolution of a wine, the better his knowledge of it will be. However, we must not lose sight of something as simple as enjoying a wine. As winos, buying and storing wine is always an incentive. Seeing how a wine evolves is something very interesting. This depends on our purchasing and storage capacity, of course. The golden rule of thumb for storing wine is to buy more than what you can drink. This is not always possible and we usually drink the wine as we buy it.
Regardless of our ability to buy and store, the most important thing is to enjoy a wine. Suppose a visitor comes to the winery. Of all the wines he tastes, the one he enjoys the most is Fierroca and he decides to buy a bottle. We use Fierroca as an example because it is a small production wine and for this example it comes in handy. So he takes a bottle home, from this 2020 vintage, and decides to keep it for a few years. Five, let’s say in our example. Then in 2028 he opens the bottle and enjoys it very much. Perhaps as much as the day of the visit, although five years later you may not have a clear recollection of it. In any case, he enjoys the wine so much that he contacts the winery to buy more Fierroca 2020 but there are no more, since as a small production wine it has been sold out for a long time. Logically you can buy the most recent vintage, probably the 2025 one, but if you want to do the same exercise of checking the evolution you will have to wait another five years before opening it. And if you open it as you buy it, you’ll be comparing a newly released wine to one that has been stored for five years.
In five years, many things can happen to our bottle: it falls and breaks, a change of residence, our storage location is not in optimal conditions, someone accidentally opens it, our taste changes and it is a wine that we do not like to drink… Too many circumstances.
All this helps us to explain something simpler. It is very good to keep a bottle to see its evolution, but it is much better to open it when it is going to make us enjoy. If we visit a winery and buy a bottle that we open a short time later, we will have time to buy another one from the following vintage and be able to compare because our memory will be fresh. And a much better idea would be to buy two bottles, one to store away and one to drink soon. Thus we arrive at the next vintage and if we repeat the purchase of two bottles we will be able to compare the vintages while we save one bottle each year.
And all this, always with one goal in mind: enjoying a bottle of wine in the best company.