How should I store and age wine?

Wine Basics / Serve, Store & Taste

How should I store and age wine?


Wine Basics Wine Basics

Hands up who’s got a labyrinthine wine cellar with temperature-controlled conditions and a chrome-embellished Champagne fridge? Us neither. Luckily, those of us forced to store our best bottles in the cupboard under the stairs can still benefit from our top tips for storing wine, whether you’ve got a precious trove of treasures for ageing, or simply want to keep your anyday wines in great condition for spontaneous moments of wine-related joy.

Storing wine: the basics


Warm temperatures can dramatically speed up maturation – we recommend 10°C-13°C for a steady maturation process. Also avoid places where the temperature is likely to change a lot daily, eg the kitchen or garden shed. Too hot or cold temperatures are bad news and storing wines in the fridge for a long time can cause corks to harden, allowing air in. The result? Stale wine.


Humidity generally isn’t bad news (and can prevent the cork drying out) but can ruin labels/cardboard boxes.


Natural and artificial light can cause the wine to heat up and get old before its time.

Position of bottles

Keep wine bottles horizontal so that the cork stays in contact with the wine to keep it from drying out and causing oxidation. Screwcaps can be stored horizontally.

Store wines horizontally to keep the cork from drying out
Store wines horizontally to keep the cork from drying out

Storing wine to drink now

Of course by now we mean now-ish – wine for drinking at the weekend, saving for a party in a few weeks’ time or your stash of anytime bottles. Basically anything you’re likely to drink in the next six months (it’s estimated that 9 out of 10 bottles are consumed within a couple of days of purchase after all). These bottles won’t need quite as much TLC as your ‘ageing’ wines but taking time to make sure your wine is happy will reap rewards with every delicious glassful, so keep them out of direct light and away from extreme temperatures.

Storing wine for ageing

Why would I want to age my wine?

Wine is unique as a drink, because the best not only keep well for decades but become more desirable with age and building up a cellar for the future is one of the most satisfying things you can do. Many bottles will develop complex aromas and flavours, beautiful colour and an indescribable magic that can only be got from several years improving in a cellar. Age can tame the astringent tannins and full-on fruit of more aggressive reds and add beautiful buttery complexity to age-worthy whites.

Need help storing wine? We can help!

Which wines age well?

Look out for really good quality examples of the below and especially from good vintages (our Vintage Chart will help you here). As a rule of thumb, reds with lots of tannin (pinot noir is an exception) and whites with lots of acidity can age really well.


Cabernet sauvignon
Pinot noir
Vintage Port

Chenin Blanc
Hunter Valley Semillon (Australia)
Dessert wines – Sauternes, Barsac

How exactly do wines age and mature?

Here’s the science bit: with the exception of pinot noir, red grapes for wines to keep have a naturally high concentration of phenols; anthocyanins (the colouring matter found just under the grapes' skins) and tannins (the mouth puckering dry ingredient found also in skins and pips and the wood in which wine is aged.) Acidity also has a large part to play in keeping these wines fresher for longer.

During the ageing process the tannins gradually soften (they 'polymerise' or form larger chemical entities) and the colour changes from bluish red via ruby, mahogany to finally becoming pale and brown. As a rule, red wines get lighter in colour with age whereas whites get darker as they mature.

More importantly, during the process the primary aromas of fresh fruit develop more complex secondary and tertiary aromas giving an aged wine layers of flavour and nuanced aromas that you just don’t get with a young wine.

When is the right time?

It can be tricky to tell when it’s exactly the right time to open the bottle because it depends on several factors; the original quality of the wine (eg the potential of the vineyard and standard of the fruit); the vintage (lighter years mature more quickly); the storage (a dark place and a steady coolish temperature of 13ºC or so help); and even the size of the bottle (half bottles age faster than full bottles or magnums).

It also depends on your tastes. Some people prefer more of the primary fruit juiciness of a younger wine, while others want the added complexity and savoury aromas that come with age. A top-notch wine or good vintage may need a good ten years or more to really sing whereas a younger wine will taste less vibrant than it should it you leave your bottle languishing too long. The best advice is to buy a few bottles of the same wine and drink them over a long period and watch them evolve. This will also help you decide if you prefer younger wines or fully mature ones.

We give recommended drinking dates based on our buyers' long experience of tasting young wines and the advice and experience of the growers themselves , so you can trust the dates we provide in our literature and online.

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.


4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies: Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.