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Written by Nikitas Magel   

Storing and Aging Wine

wine_cellarAging a good wine is like investing in a low-risk savings bond: the return on that investment is roughly proportional to the length of time you put it away.  Though just as so few of us actually put away money that way, scarcely anyone (in this country, at least) stores wine for the long haul.  But if you're willing to pay a few extra bucks on a good bottle now, why not do the same on a few additional bottles for later?  After all, a quality wine will only get better, and in many cases the improvement is substantial.  Cellaring wine can range anywhere from the simple approach of stashing a few bottles at the bottom of a cool, dark closet to the extravagant approach of placing them among the slots of a custom-built walk-in that's controlled for temperature and humidity.  It all depends on your budget and the extent of your enthusiasm.

My personal approach is to rent off-site wine storage.  Renting a locker in a wine-storing facility is cheaper than you might think, and encourages you to:

  1. experiment with the practice of aging wine when space and/or money precludes having your own cellar, and
  2. be disciplined about allowing wine to age, since it's not easy to cave in (no pun intended) by opening a bottle out of arm's reach

If you do a Google search on "wine storage" in your area, you're bound to find a number of these facilities.  They tend to be numerous in larger cities, and often offer different sized lockers depending on how many cases you want to put away.  While working at a winery in Napa, I amassed a number of great single-vineyard Cabernets, and learned from a colleague that with wines of that quality it would be a good idea to age them.

With a little research, I discovered Subterraneum. It's in an ugly part of Oakland (is that redundant?).  The wines aren't particular about where they sleep, as long as it's cool, dark, moist, and quiet.  And it's a very nice facility, once you're inside.  Joe, the proprietor, smart cookie he is, bought this warehouse and had it outfitted with climate-controlling equipment and then built wooden storage lockers that he rents to the public.  For $10 a month, I have a 10-case locker in which I've got mostly '97 and '99 Napa Cabernets aging.  I think the whole thing is well worth it; it's a steal, in fact.  There are far fancier establishments in the city, Marin, and wine country itself that charge a lot more for that privilege.  But once again, the idea is to put away your wines for a couple of years, and then go back to them periodically to see how wonderfully they've matured.  The result can be sublime!

For more info: wine cellaring, aging wine, 10 most common wine cellar problems end

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