Here’s the Best Kind of Wine to Put in Your Anniversary Wine Box

Saving a bottle for an anniversary? Here’s how to choose one that'll stand the test of time.
by Maggie Seaver
iStock

Whether you’re a wine-loving couple, getting married at a vineyard or simply looking for a fun, meaningful and secular alternative the unity candle (or other religious unity ritual), a wine box ceremony could be just what you’re looking for. In a typical wine box ceremony, which happens during the wedding ceremony, couples will place a special bottle into a box, often decorated with a sweet message, their names or wedding date, along with love letters written to one another or sometimes letters to the couple from their parents. After saying “I do,” the newlyweds then wait until an anniversary or other special occasion to open the box, read their notes and enjoy the wine. What a perfect way to spend an anniversary, right?

But before you lock away just any old bottle of vino, it’s important to note that not every wine ages like, well, a fine wine—although that’s not to say there aren’t incredible wines simply meant to be enjoyed closer to their bottling date. But realistically, your favorite wine from the local wine purveyor might not have the longevity you’re looking for. Here are some pro tips from co-CEO of Banfi Vintners Cristina Mariani-May to help you choose a bottle that’ll last just as long as the love letters inside your box.

How to Store Your Wine

Even if the wine you choose is known to age beautifully, you need to store it properly to make sure it lasts until you open it. "Wine is a natural, living, breathing organism that develops, matures and eventually fades as time passes," Mariani-May says. After your wedding ceremony, keep the box in a cool spot (around 55 degrees) that’s slightly humid, which will prevent the cork from drying out. If the cork dries and shrinks, air can creep into the bottle and react with the wine, causing it to deteriorate. 

One-Year Anniversary Wines

Mariani-May says about 95 percent of the wines you find on store shelves is meant to be consumed within two years or fewer, since, for the most part, wine has no added preservatives. "Most wines will last at least a year—even whites and rosés," Mariani-May says. "Beyond a year, you'll generally want to avoid rosé and most white wines, although there are some special chardonnays from Burgundy, France, and Rieslings from Washington State that do improve with age.” So, whether you prefer white, red or pink, you should be safe holding most wines for about one year, but talk to a local sommelier to make sure.  

Five- to Ten-Year Anniversary Wines

"Some wines—called 'ageable' or 'cellar worthy'—have high levels of naturally occurring preservatives known as acidity and tannins that allow them to continue developing for many years," Mariani-May explains. If you’re planning to wait until your fifth, tenth or even thirtieth anniversary, make sure to box up something that’ll stand the test of time (you don’t want to open a spoiled bottle after all those years of patience and anticipation). You’re safest bet is to aim for more tannic red varietals, like cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. When it comes to Italian wine, Mariani-May recommends checking out high-end Super Tuscans (meaning they’re made in Italy with non-native grapes, like cabernet sauvignon and merlot), such as Castello Banfi SummuS and ExcelsuS. Saving your box for a true milestone anniversary? Mariani-May suggests velvety Brunello di Montalcino, which can age up to 30 years. We’ll drink to that!

Ultimately, you want to save a wine that holds special meaning for you as a couple. Maybe it’s the wine you enjoyed on your first date, or the one you’re drinking at the reception. Maybe it’s the wine your partner’s grandparents drank at their wedding and they’ve been married 60 years. Whatever the reason, choose a sip you can’t wait to crack open and celebrate with your spouse in the future.

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