Whether or not to bottle age your wine after you have purchased it is a very personal and somewhat complex decision. While most white wines are designed to be enjoyed within two to three years after their vintage date, many robust red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon such as William Hill Winery’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Aura, will continue to evolve and improve with additional aging in proper storage conditions.
Under the proper storage conditions, the components of red wines will interact and evolve. During bottle aging, the wine’s varietal aromas and flavors, as well as tannins and pigment, interact with oak compounds imparted during fermentation and barrel aging. Tannins and pigment compounds will link together to form longer, smoother polymer chains, softening the tannic impression of the wine. This integration can help to develop increasingly complex flavors and aromas, and deepen the wine’s color from purplish to a deep, brick red.
However, the primary caveat of a fine red wine improving through additional aging is the quality of its storage conditions. The ideal storage environment for wine mirrors the conditions of many wineries’ storage caves:
55-65°F. Cool temperatures slow the aging process and help to develop complex varietal character.
Less than 10°F fluctuation throughout the year. Temperature fluctuations can cause the wine to expand and contract, possibly causing damage to the cork.
Between 60-80%. Humidity over 80% can encourage mold, while dry conditions can cause evaporation and oxidation.
Excessive light exposure can cause proteins in wine to become hazy, and can create “off” aromas and flavors.
Vibration (from appliances or motors) can travel through wine and be detrimental to its development.
The storage area should be free from chemical odors, such as cleaners, household paints, etc.
Basements are usually wonderful for storing wine because they meet many of the above criteria. Other options include a little-used, interior closet in an air-conditioned home. Wine storage systems are available that provide optimum temperature and humidity conditions for serious wine collecting.