Tips for Storing Madeira Wine for 221 Years

vintage wine

In the right conditions, it can be incredible how long Madeira wine might keep.

Multiple cases of 221-year-old Madeira wine were discovered last year behind a Prohibition-era walled-up section of Liberty Hall Museum, a former residence built in New Jersey in 1773. Although the Portugal press took great interest, since that’s where Madeira wine is from, the U.S. media was a bit slower to adequately cover the story. The news finally went viral in America in July of 2017. What kind of wine cellar conditions would have to exist for wine to be preserved well enough to drink after more than two centuries? Wine needs to be stored in particular conditions, which demands, for starters, a quality wine cooling unit from a reliable brand, such as WhisperKool, Cellar Pro, Breezaire, KoolR, Koolspace, or Wine Guardian.

Wine to Celebrate the 2nd U.S. President!

The stash of wine in the basement of the 50-room residence-turned-museum was a surprising find. The museum staff members guess that the cases of wine had been nailed shut for at least a century. The wine labels are still very discernible. One note reads that it was imported via Philadelphia in 1796 by the late Robert Lenox, Esq. Lenox was a financier and banker who frequently imported Madeira in large bottles called demijohns or in barrels and would then bottle and label it, when it arrived from Portugal.

Research found that the Kean family bought some of the bottles for the purpose of celebrating the election of the 2nd President of the United States, John Adams.

While most types of wine would have turned to vinegar after such a lengthy period of time in storage, Madeira lasts an exceptionally long time. It is a fortified wine, and its longevity is one of the reasons it became so popular in the 18th century.

The value of the Madeira collection has yet to be revealed. It could be substantial, considering that in 2016, two bottles of 1795 Madeira wine sold for almost $10,000 each.

No details were provided about the wine cellar conditions, but they had to be good. Many of the wine bottles have remained perfectly corked and wax-sealed. It was reported that a descendant of the Kean family tasted a 147-year-old Madeira a few years back. He reported that it tasted like sherry.

Ideal Wine Cellar Conditions

You can now visit the Liberty Hall Museum and see historically significant bottles from the newly discovered collection. If you were able to also tour the wine cellar, you should be able to expect the following conditions:

  • Cool temperatures between 55° and 60°.
  • An appropriate humidity level of somewhere between 50% and 80%.
  • An absence of sunlight.
  • An absence of sudden temperature fluctuations.
  • A stable environment that prevents the bottles from vibrations.

Contact Rosehill Wine Cellars

If you’re interested in making sure that even your long-forgotten cases of wine remain in good condition, contact Rosehill Wine Cellars. We provide custom wine cellars with the perfect atmosphere. Wine cooling units from companies such as WhisperKool, Cellar Pro, Breezaire, KoolR, Koolspace, or Wine Guardian do an excellent job of maintaining the correct environment in a wine cellar.