When you think about wine, what comes to mind first?
If your answer is “Chardonnay” or “white wine”—which may not even be true—you’re probably thinking about those ubiquitous bottles of white wine that come in a box.
But there are more types of wine than just Chardonnay and white wine, including reds, rosés, sparkling wines, sweet wines, port, and dessert wines.
But how long does a Chardonnay last, anyway?
And how long should you keep it around?
We’ll answer these questions and more in this article.
How long does a Chardonnay last?
The short answer is that how long a Chardonnay lasts depends on several factors, such as the type of wine (e.g., dry vs.
sweet), how it was stored, and how much time has passed since bottling.
According to the Wine Institute, a bottle of Chardonnay that was opened 10 years ago will likely still have 20% alcohol remaining.
That said, if you buy a bottle today, it might be closer to 30%.
However, with proper care, a good bottle of Chardonnay should last for at least three years.
The longer it ages, the better it tastes.
So, if you don’t like drinking wine that quickly after opening, consider buying a few extra bottles so you can enjoy them over a period of months or even years.
How long does it take for a Chardonnay to mature?
It takes about six months from harvest to when a Chardonnay reaches peak maturity.
After that point, the grapes start losing their sugars and flavors, which means the wine starts changing.
It becomes less crisp and fresh, and its sweetness increases.
These changes happen gradually, so the wine doesn’t turn into vinegar overnight.
If you want to store a Chardonnay, try to avoid temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 Celsius).
Temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 21 Celsius) are best.
A warm room or cellar is preferable to a cool basement.
However, even a cold cellar won’t help if the wine remains exposed to sunlight.
A good place to store a Chardonnay is away from direct light and heat sources, but also away from other strong aromas, such as perfume, cologne, tobacco, and food.
You could wrap the bottle in an old blanket or t-shirt to protect it from dust, moisture, and insects.
How long can you age a Chardonnay?
According to the Wine Institute, you can keep a Chardonnay for up to five years.
If you prefer to drink a Chardonnay immediately after opening, it should be fine for two to three years.
Even though it’s been open for a while, if you plan to drink it within a year, you might notice some off flavors.
But if you plan to age it, the flavor profile will improve over time.
What is the ideal storage temperature for a Chardonnay?
You’ll find different opinions on this topic, but the general consensus is that a good Chardonnay should be kept around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 C).
Ideally, you should never expose Chardonnay to temperatures higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 C).
The high temperature will cause the wine’s natural acids to break down, leaving behind unpleasant notes and flavors.
Also, exposing the wine to too much heat will make it oxidize, which will change its color and aroma.
To prevent oxidation, you should store a Chardonnay in a dark space where it’s out of direct sunlight.
Ideally, the wine should be stored in a corked glass bottle without any added oxygen.
Corking prevents oxidation by keeping oxygen out of the bottle, which stops the wine from spoiling as fast.
How long does a Chardonnay need to be aged before it is ready to drink?
The ideal time to drink a Chardonnay is when it reaches peak ripeness.
When the sugar content is low enough, the wine is ready to drink.
Some people prefer to wait until the fruitiness fades entirely, but others like a little residual sweetness.
Either way, it’s important to let the wine sit for a couple weeks or months before tasting it.
This allows the flavors to develop further.
If you decide to age a Chardonnay, remember that the longer it sits, the better it gets.
This means you’ll get to see the wine evolve throughout its life.
If you buy a bottle today, it will likely still be enjoyable a few years from now.
But if you waited a decade before opening it, you may be disappointed because the wine isn’t quite as good as it used to be.
What are the benefits of aging a Chardonnay?
Some people believe that aging a Chardonnay makes it taste better.
While this may be true, it’s not the only reason why you should age one.
Aging a Chardonnay also extends the shelf life of the wine.
This means you can enjoy a bottle for decades instead of just a few years.
Another benefit of aging a Chardonnay is that it opens up the wine’s aromas and flavors.
Many people believe that Chardonnay’s fruity aromas and flavors come from the grape itself, but the truth is that they come from the fermentation process.
Fermentation creates these compounds, and the longer a wine ferments, the greater the chance that it will produce more complex aromas and flavors.
There’s one final benefit to aging a Chardonnay: it improves the wine’s longevity.
Many winemakers recommend storing a Chardonnay for at least four years, but many experts say that it’s better to keep a Chardonnay for as long as possible.
In fact, some people believe that a well-aged Chardonnay is actually healthier than a young one.
This is because the prolonged exposure to oxygen causes the tannins in the wine to break down and release antioxidants.
As a result, it can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
How does the aging process affect the taste of a Chardonnay?
As we mentioned earlier, the aging process helps the wine become more complex.
The longer it ages, the more complex the flavors become.
This is especially true with Chardonnay, which typically develops richer, fuller flavors over time.
Some examples include buttery notes, nutty ones, and hints of vanilla and cinnamon.
On the flip side, some people think that wines that have been aged for a long time lose their complexity.
They believe that the longer a wine ages, the simpler it becomes.
Others believe that certain wines only become more interesting once they’ve reached their prime.
What are some of the most popular Chardonnays?
While many people love drinking Chardonnay straight from the fridge, some people like to experiment with different ways to serve it.
Here are two great options.
1. Serve chilled
If you like a nice, cold Chardonnay, then you’ll love serving it chilled.
This is one of the simplest ways to serve Chardonnay, and it goes perfectly with seafood dishes and salads.
Just chill your favorite Chardonnay and pour into a large pitcher.
Add ice, salt, lemon juice, and pepper, and give everyone a glass.
2. Add bubbles
If you want to add bubbles to your wine, then you’ll love using Champagne.
Most Champagnes have no additional carbonation, so you can easily add a splash of Champagne to any Chardonnay.
If you want to go all out, then you can use a combination of Champagne and sparkling wine.
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