Skip to main content

5 White Wine Varietals Worthy of Cellar Aging

Most people unfairly think that only red wines are worthy of significant cellar time. Not so, as a rather large number of varietals from Oregon to Portugal suggest.

Patience, they say, is a virtue. It’s undoubtedly enjoyable to drink a lot of these wines in their youth, taking in their glowing pizazz. But it can be transcendent if you give them their due time. You’ll find that they’ll take on new flavors, color shades, textures, and heightened states of balance when you simply store them away for a while.

The following five types will evolve beautifully with some added years and a few gray whiskers to their name. Also, make a note to age at least some of your best sparkling wines, along with sweet dessert styles like Sauternes, Tokaji, and noble rot wines. The added sugar will help their maturation.

white wine cellar aging
Gilaxia/Getty Images

If you haven’t set up your home wine cellar yet, here’s how.

Chardonnay (8-10 years)

They’ve known in Burgundy forever what we’re still figuring out in the states: Chardonnay can go the distance. As one of the most planted wine grapes on the planet, you’ll run into a lot of it. Much of the best work comes out of France, Canada, the American West Coast, and Australia.

What’s especially nice about Chard is that the big and buttery version made popular by California giants in the ’80s and ’90s is pretty much in the rearview mirror. Today’s producers are stressing its purity and oft-overlooked fruit flavors, which can mesh beautifully with the structure of the wine over time.

Look for great emerging examples coming out of places like New Zealand and Oregon. While the experts tend to play it safe at around the decade mark, Chardonnay has proven to go much, much longer if aged properly.

Sémillon (5-20 years)

Sémillon is responsible for some of the most famous dessert wines out there. Its delicate skin makes it an easy target for noble rot, which many careful producers tout as having a flavor-enhancing effect. It hails from Bordeaux and is one of only three approved white varietals allowed in the region (for now, as climate change is shuffling up the mix).

Much of it comes from places like France, Australia, and South Africa but a growing number of producers in Washington state, Texas, and more are working with this fruit. While the dry styles are interesting, the late-harvest and dessert-style takes often change more when put aside for many years.

Arinto (5-10 years)

Calling Portugal home, Arinto is known to be a zippy, high-acid wine with citrus flavors. Typically, it’s consumed young as vinho verde, one of the country’s most famous exports. But it can become more sophisticated when left alone, showing more in the way of minerality.

For a lower-alcohol wine, it ages pretty well (partially because of that acidic backbone), generally taking on some nutty and honey-like components or stone fruit flavors. 

Riesling (10-25 years)

Maybe the granddaddy of age-able whites, Riesling does interesting things over time. The hero of the Rhine region is now a force to be reckoned with in places like Austria, Croatia, Italy, and some cooler pockets of the New World.

It’s an extremely aromatic white, often blooming with the unmistakable “petrol” element (which some love and others despise). Stories of German rieslings going well over the century mark and still tasting great are common. With such an expansive spectrum of flavors, it’s a fun and capable one for the cellar. Get a half-case of something you really like and crack a bottle every two years to see how it has grown.


Riesling is big in Alsace but the region is also responsible for floral and sometimes spicy Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, and more. With so much enological history here, the wines tend to be masterfully dialed-in and brimming with character.

Because it was the darling of the wine community a while back, you’re likely to stumble into some interesting older options on the bottle list of your local wine-loving restaurant or bottle shop. If you want to see what they become before you cellar some of your own, sniff around for an older bottle.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
The 5 best Indian butter chicken recipes we’ve tasted
Master an Indian cuisine favorite with these chef-curated butter chicken recipes
Indian butter chicken in a black pan with a spiral of cream being added.

Creamy and savory, Indian butter chicken is a must-order for any fan of Indian cuisine. An extremely popular dish at most Indian restaurants in America, this combination of tender chicken and rich sauce is equally delicious with basmati rice or Indian naan. While butter chicken can be time-consuming to make, the results are deliciously fulfilling and perfect for leftovers.

To help us navigate this classic dish, The Manual has collected five amazing recipes from various chefs and Indian cuisine professionals, including Maneet Chauhan, a Food Network star, and restaurateur Gaurav Anand. With the expert guidance of these chefs, butter chicken can be a great addition to anyone's dinner repertoire.

Read more
A guide to Cajun food, a Franco-American wonder
Everything you need to know about Cajun cuisine
Cajun food in a pan.

Of the many great American exports out there, Cajun food sits toward the top of the list. Equal parts French culinary wisdom and Bayou soul, it's something of a hybrid but also very much its own cuisine. And it's responsible for some of the most tantalizing dishes out there.

Sure, it started in New Orleans and sometimes involves crawfish. But it's way, way more than that. We won't dive too deep, but it pays to so something about this incredible food style, born right here in the U.S.A.

Read more
10 insanely clever kitchen hacks you need to start using
These time saving tricks will make you a master in the kitchen

We all love a good hack. Social media is full of them — for life, for the office, for pet care, for cleaning, and yes, for the kitchen. These are a few of our absolute favorite kitchen hacks, tried and tested, that will save you time and stress, and maybe earn you a few extra compliments on your cooking.

Cut steak fries easily using an apple slicer
Did you know that an apple slicer can do so much more than slice apples? It's very handy for cutting other fruits like pears, too. It can even portion out mozzarella nicely. But our favorite thing to cut using one of these little gizmos are potatoes. The triangular sections are the perfect size for some hearty steak fries! Just slice, fry, and serve up with a juicy ribeye and glass of whiskey. Yum.
Prevent cutting board slippage with a wet paper towel
If you've ever had your cutting board slip around on you, you know how frustrating (and dangerous!) it can be. When using a sharp knife in the kitchen, taking every precaution to keep your digits in tact is crucial. This little safety hack takes about two seconds and can help keep all ten fingers where they belong. Simply dampen a paper towel and lay it flat beneath your cutting board. Presto. No more slippage.
Microwave citrus to squeeze out every drop
With produce prices soaring, it's important to get every last drop out of our ingredients, and this hack will help you do exactly that. By microwaving your citrus fruits before juicing them, you'll get much more out of your squeeze. Just nuke for about 10 seconds, give them a firm roll on the counter, slice, and squeeze.
Save a salty soup with a raw potato
This hack has been around for a while, but still unfamiliar to many. We've all been there- in a moment of chefy excitement, we went a little overboard on the salt in our soup and now it tastes like something a tropical fish might live in. Worry not. Simply plop a raw, peeled potato into the salty stew and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. The starchiness of the spud will allow it to absorb the excess salt and get your dish back to delicious in just a few minutes.

Read more