Vins de France: Home

Keeping wine

When is the right time to drink a wine? Too early would be a shame as the wine will not have had enough time to develop all of its aromatic power and may prove disappointing. Too late and those same savours will have faded, giving a wine with neither depth nor aromatic scope. Each wine reaches an optimum peak that depends on its origin, design and also to a large extent the conditions in which it has been stored.

The issue is complex, just like wine itself. A bottle contains over 900 substances identified to date and harbours chemical reactions and combinations of savours that all contribute to aromatic richness.

Cellaring potential

A wine’s potential to age depends on two factors: on the type of wine itself, and on the conditions under which the bottle is stored. The more complex the wine and the more balanced its components (power, acidity, tannins), the longer it will be able to age. From this point of view, a Gaillac Primeur will age over a much shorter period than a Saint-Estèphe Grand Cru Classé and will reveal all of its vivacity in its first years. Similarly, dry whites generally age over shorter periods than reds because they contain less alcohol and fewer tannins. Syrupy wines can be stored for much longer than some reds, thanks to their sugar content.

The question of temperature

The second factor of aging is the storage of the bottle itself. Over 14°C, aging is accelerated. The same applies to direct exposure to light, which fosters certain chemical reactions inside the bottle. But big changes in temperature are more damaging than anything else: storing a vintage wine in a kitchen cupboard for two years, with temperatures of 30° is summer, prevents the wine from aging. Here are some guidelines for laying down the main French appellations:

Less than 1 year

  • Beaujolais and other Primeur AOPs

From 1 to 5 years

  • Champagne, Alsace, Beaujolais, Jura, Savoy, Provence, Corsica, Languedoc-Roussillon
  • South-West: Bergerac, Gaillac, Fronton
  • Loire Valley: Touraine, Anjou, Muscadet sur Lie, Sancerre
  • AOP sparkling wines: Crémant, Blanquette, Clairette de Die
  • Burgundy Appellations Régionales: Macon, Burgundy, Hautes Côtes de Nuits
  • Bordeaux Appellations Régionales: Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur, dry white Bordeaux
  • Rhône Valley Appellations Régionales: Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Tavel rosé

Up to 10 years

  • Burgundy Appellations Communales, red and white: Chablis, Pouilly Fuissé, Gevrey Chambertin, Beaune, Volnay
  • Bordeaux: Appellations Régionales from the left bank – Médoc, Haut Médoc, Graves
  • Bordeaux Appellations Communales: Saint Émilion, Pomerol
  • Rhône Valley: Appellations Communales
  • Languedoc-Roussillon: Vins Doux Naturels, Maury, Banyuls, Muscat de Rivesaltes
  • Loire Valley: Touraine reds - Chinon, Bourgueil 

Up to 20 years

  • Burgundy: Premiers Crus, Grands Crus
  • Rhône Valley reds: Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, Cornas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas
  • Bordeaux: Médoc and Graves Appellations Communales - Pessac-Léognan, Margaux, Pauillac, Moulis; Grands Crus Classés; Crus Bourgeois
  • Loire Valley: sweet and syrupy whites - Coteaux du Layon, Bonnezeaux

Over 20 years

  • Jura: yellow wine, straw wine
  • Languedoc-Roussillon: Banyuls Grand Cru
  • South-West: syrupy wines - Jurançon, Monbazillac, Pacherenc
  • Bordeaux: syrupy wines - Sauternes, Barsac, Loupiac; plus some Médoc and Graves Grands Crus Classés
Bouteilles en cave - Photo Louis-Marie Blanchard © Interloire

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