9 top tips on cellaring wine

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Cellaring wine: why it’s worth the fuss.

My wife Nicole hates how much wine we have cluttering up the house, and as much as I feel her pain, I can’t help it, because I’ve tasted how great an aged wine can be. There is an art form to storing wine, or at least a few best practice suggestions and tips that will ensure satisfaction in years to come. As for Nicole, I’m choosing to soothe her with back rubs and pretty things rather than stop collecting wines.

Our latest blog post will provide practical cellaring wine tips to ensure your wine ages beautifully, enhancing its aroma and taste over the years.

First up (this is a bonus non-official tip) is don’t leave the wine boxes around where the wife will trip up on them. This one is very important. It probably should come under “tips for a happy marriage”, or “7 good ideas to stop your wife from wanting to kill you.” You can thank me later for this wisdom.

Essentials of Cellaring Wine: Keeping Cool and Constant

Wines (much like dogs) die in hot cars – you can cook a wine pretty quickly before you even get it in the cellar by leaving it in your 30-degree car while you go shopping.

Anaerobic reactions in the wine slow down with temperature, to pretty much not doing anything when it’s under 10 degrees. This means it’s not aging at a rate that will make a lot of difference in 5 years. Which is great if your 18, you just won the lottery and are building a huge cellar, not so great for those of us who don’t even buy green bananas.

Storing your wine at around 14-18 degrees is ideal, if your cellar is 21 degrees average (i.e it’s lying around your house), I would start drinking them at 5-8 years. If you can’t get them below 25 degrees (I’m looking at you Queenslanders) buy a wine fridge. Don’t put them in the cupboard above your oven, or near anything that vibrates. The temperature will cook it, and the vibrations will make the flavours develop differently (read; it will taste like shite)

keep it in the dark

UV rays can damage liquids easily, hence why all reds are in dark bottles, and why whites used to be. Thanks to those creative types we now prefer our white wine to look pretty so hence all the clear glass. Bearing this in mind, if you want to age a white wine, keep it in the dark. Again, wine fridges are great places for cellaring wine as its temperature including humidity controlled.

Cellaring Wine the dusty way

Find Cool climate wines for a longer aging potential

Argue this with me if you want, but I would much rather put a Tasmanian Chardonnay down to age than one from the Riverland (sorry Riverland – you have some amazing Fianos and Vermentinos – go try them people).

The exceptions are fortifieds and the whites mentioned in the next point. Acid is a great natural preservative; high temperatures can knock out the natural acidity in the grapes, so if they aren’t picked before that happens, porty characteristics can come through the wine when aged.

With cooler climates, acids remain because it rarely gets over 35 degrees, allowing flavours and sugars to develop slowly. Cool climate fortifieds can be exceptional too – Di Giorgios fortified Shiraz will age forever.

cellaring white wines – YES PLEASE

There is nothing better in the world than buying a Clare Valley Riesling or Hunter Valley Semillon and putting it down for 7+ years to wake up a sleeping beauty. These wines’ great natural acidity helps them age, turning them into a golden explosion of Honey and Lime.

Try before you put them in the cellar

I find the best way to test if a wine will age is to leave some in the glass for the next night or, better yet, have one glass a night over four nights. If it is still good after 4 or 5 nights, stock up baby. If it’s rubbish the next night, just enjoy it as a buy-and-drink wine.

Australians are famous for knocking down tall poppies, so more often than not expensive wines actually are worth the money. Crap, expensive wines have come and gone; the good ones are still here, so go for a brand that has been around for more than five minutes.

Fridge Storage: A Trick for Red Lovers

If you want to open an aged red wine but are worried that you won’t finish it, don’t fret – put the remainder in the fridge. It will last for 16 times longer than on your bench.

If you can’t finish a good wine within two weeks, we probably can’t be friends. Just pour it, and give it five minutes to warm up. Queenslanders, drink it from an ice bucket because your weather is ridiculously warm.

the risk of over-aging

Winemaker Julian Langworthy from Deep Woods Estate always says, “It’s better to drink a wine ten years too early than 1 minute too late.” If you are worried it’s too young, decant it. If you don’t have a decanter, try an aerator. At the very least, pour a glass, put the lid back on, and lie the bottle on its side. Roll it around on your bench or shake it if your friends are 5 minutes away.  This will allow the wine to breathe, which in turn brings out more flavours.

Some of the Aged beauties in our wine cellar

Don’t Cellar wines with a cork

Professional trials and wine shows are still getting about 12% of wines under cork having cork taint. Cork taint, or Trichloroanisole (TCA) at low levels dull the smell of the wine and can be hard to spot other than the wine being a bit shit. High levels will make the wine smell like a wet mouse or mouldy cardboard, which is a total vibe killer. There’s a reason why most producers today use screw caps for their wines.

Enjoy it!

Finally, the best wine advice I ever received was from our winemaker, Peter Douglas. He said, “Never go looking for faults. Enjoy first what is amazing about the wine.” Good advice for life. Don’t overthink it, and make sure it is just the amplifier for a great night. Wine is made to be enjoyed and as you delve into the world of wine cellaring, remember that the right conditions are crucial. These cellaring wine tips will hopefully guide you to set up the perfect environment for your wines to mature gracefully.

So there you have it, storing your wine correctly shouldn’t be just for show, it’s a game changer for ensuring your wine stays amazing, and has the ability to get even better over time. Get the basics right, and you’ll be sipping on heaven; get it wrong, and well, it’s a sad, sad glass of disappointment.

Dru and Nicole walking in the vineyard together with a glass of wine each

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