5L bottle of California Cab--How Long Can I Age?

I have a question…my husband and I are considering purchasing a 5L bottle of cabernet from our favorite winery in Napa (Altamura). It would be a 2015, which is the year we got married. We would buy this with the intent on saving it for our 25th wedding anniversary (so 2040). What are the chances of this aging well for 25 years? We have had their 1998 cab (750mL) this year, and it was still fantastic 22 years in. I have heard the large format you can age longer, but just wanted to get opinions to weigh in on this. Thanks in advance!

Shouldn’t be a problem at all. I have been drinking lots of CA cabs from the early 90s and they have been wonderful

I agree that assuming the cork does its job the wine should be solid…but thats the concern with formats larger than 1.5L as they use special corks. Others can chime in with more experience with extra large formats but I’ve always been under the impression that those large bottles are a bit more variable when it comes to aging because of the corks. Maybe hedge your bets with a few magnums as well??

My suggestion is to buy a case of standard bottles. Otherwise, if your one single big-format bottle has any damage, loss, or taint problem, you will be left with nothing.

Gail and I carried a 5L of 1985 Silver Oak Napa (no snickering - SO was a big deal then!) home with us in 1989 or so when we visited. We took the wine in its wood box onto the plane home from SFO, to many oohs and ahs from our fellow passengers. (Carry-on wine? Those were the days…)

We opened the wine in 2013 at the rehearsal dinner for our daughter’s wedding. It was very good and reflected what many other high end California cabs from the 80’s tasted like in 750’s in the same time frame. We had everyone at the dinner sign the bottle in those silver sharpies and it’s still on display in our daughter and son-in-law’s family room.

The biggest problem was a few in-the-know folks telling people (other than me!) that the wine was too good and must be a fake. Thanks, Rudy - may you rot in hell!

Go for it, CCollins!

PS - To Victor’s point, the 6L of 1987 Monticello Corley Reserve for our son’s birth year was corked!

Not that I’m an expert on big format bottles, but I actually like Victor’s suggestion! Or multiple mags rather than a 5L.

My guess is they’re also not going through a bottling line so are hand bottled, adding even more variation to the mix.

Covering the lip of the glass & the cork with one of these “GE Silicone” products might give you a seal which could last for about 10,000 years.


I don’t know whether the silicone would have any effect on the wine itself, but if applied properly, it’s hard to imagine that very much oxygen would be moving into or out of the bottle any time in the next few millennia.

In my experience, the silicone products have no trouble whatsoever in adhering themselves to a glass surface, but you could probably take some steel wool and scratch or scuff a little roughness into the glass and improve the adherence beyond the normal performance.

I suppose we could experiment with some cheap bottles of wine to see whether the silicone might somehow leach through the cork and impart some nastiness into the wine.

Although I kinda doubt that would happen.

Back in 2001, somebody wrote a letter to the BMJ about the potential “estrongenicy” of Silicone [which I guess on this side of the pond would be “estrogenicity”]:


But I’m not seeing a whole lot at PubMed right now.

Useless if TCA in contents. Would create a TCA mummy for later archaeological discovery.

I actually have a 6L of '79 Mondavi Reserve Cab (a decent year as I understand) and the winery told me they only produced 3 that year. What the hell am I going to do with it???

I’ve owned and opened many 3L and larger (12L was the largest) bottles of CA Cabernet over the past 30+ years. I’ve seen nothing to indicate there’s anything special or different about the corks, other than size, compared to those used in 750ml bottles. This includes when I purchased the corks and glass to deliver to a winery that normally didn’t produce large format bottles.

I’d have no qualms about holding a Cab from a winery like Altamura for 25 years. We have a couple of 6L bottles from 1986 we’re planning on opening next spring at our daughter’s wedding and I expect them to be fine. They haven’t been stored any differently than any other bottle in our cellar. The one thing I have noticed is the larger bottles are prone to seepage past the cork when removed from the cellar. I suspect it’s a combination of a small headspace and much larger volume of wine that is expanding as it warms from cellar temp.

In our experience, the “wow” factor of opening a big bottle at a celebration more than outweighs the risk the wine is corked or otherwise defective. Maybe we’ve been lucky, or just have the palate of a yak, but we haven’t been disappointed yet.

A Post-Covid party sounds like a great excuse to me.

All-day Beserker Steak Prix Fixe? 6 courses with steak 6 ways, and see how the wine move/shifts over the course of the afternoon with each course? Maybe some other older Cabs/Bordeaux every other flight to see some comparisons? #idea

Yeah, that was an easy question to answer!

Yeah, I pulled a Nick Christie.

I use Parafilm to seal whisky bottles, which are infamous for poor cork/screwtop seals. Should work for wine bottles, too.


I think it’s a great idea, though I’m not really familiar with that particular wine. Or I also like the idea of two or three magnums, to spread the risk a bit in case you have an off bottle.

Do you have a place to store it? If you don’t have a wine storage cabinet, put it on its side in the dark in the place in your house that is coolest and has the fewest temperature swings. A closet in the basement, or if no basement, probably the bottom of the ground floor interior hallway closet or something.

I’ve read a few times that you should store large format bottles (3L and up) upright, as they are prone to seepage, but have no personal experience aging such bottles to confirm.

In my experience there’s been no seepage when storing bottles on their side, some for more than 30 years. As i mentioned earlier, the only seepage I’ve noticed is when the bottle is removed from the cellar and it warms above cellar temp.