In the Cellar Door, we are often asked about cellaring and storing wine, and what types of wine to age, so I wanted to answer some of your most asked questions about aging wines...
Wine is constantly changing and evolving in the bottle. Its life goal is to turn into vinegar. If you are able to catch a wine at the perfect place on this journey, you will experience flavours that you didn't think were possible in wine.
However, not all wines improve with age, if it is not good when young, it isn’t going to miraculously transform into a great wine with age. Investing in a bottle that has a proven cellaring life is the best way to start. I like to buy 6 or 12 bottles, then open a bottle every year or two and keep track of how it's evolving.
If you’ve stashed some wine away and years later you discover a treasure, don’t be afraid to call the winery for guidance, they’ll be delighted to hear from you. We often get calls asking about one of our wines that have been discovered in the wine rack at home. We can give advice on whether it is going to be great now, or even if it has a few more years in it, should you want to keep it longer.
To get some great knowledge on starting your own cellar, or learning more about aged wines, join one of our Wine Education Classes. The Wine 103- how wine ages, we take a look at older wines together with their younger counterparts to discover how wines age, what wines have good cellaring potential and discover the difference a little and a lot of aging makes.
Cellaring wines will change (and generally) improve a well-chosen wine, and this is where buying at the Cellar Door is perfect, as the person will be able to give you the very best advice about the ageing potential of that specific wine.
What Wines Should I Age?
The majority of white wines are made to be drunk young, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Moscato.
If you have never thought to cellar a dry Verdelho- think again! These crisp white wines develop into the most wonderfully rich, unctuous wine with some bottle age. They can develop beautify honey, dried herb and spice characteristics.
The colour transformation in white wines over time is astonishing, they transform from a light water-like colour to deep gold.
When Cellaring a red wine, it ought to have a solid structure, bold tannins, good acid and oak, plus great fruit! Generally, the less expensive or mass-manufactured wines don’t cellar for as long, the fruit may be less intensely flavoured, and hence the wine will have less oak, so the structure, essential for ageing will not be as complex.
Over time, the tannins will clump together and fall to the bottom of the bottle as sediment. This smoothens out the wine and will alter the colour of it. Over time, red wines will lose their colour and become more translucent.
How to Store the Wines?
Believe it or not, you do not need a purpose-built wing of the house or basement to age your wines! I personally keep my age-worthy wines inside an esky in the cupboard. The two most important factors for cellaring wine at home, are the stability of temperature (don’t worry too much about the actual temperature, as long as it's not hot, it is more important that there aren’t wild fluctuations) and the physical stability of the wine, so try not to move it around too much.
The level of humidity was more important when wine was sealed with corks, as you didn’t want them to dry out, and no longer be air-tight. Wines with cork will need to lay flat (on its side) to keep the cork moist and prevent air from entering and oxidising the wine. Stelvin sealed wines (screw caps) can be stored upright.
Ensure that the wines are kept in the dark, as the light will lead to more variation in the temperature and can trigger chemical reactions which lead to the tainting of the wine.
When Can I Open Them?
As a general rule of thumb, if you find a wine that you like (budget permitting) buy a dozen, put 6 bottles within easy reach, and then squirrel away the other six to be enjoyed over 6 or 12 years.
The best wine producers will give you an ageing estimate on the back label, this would be under good cellaring conditions, so use it as an estimate. Make sure you ask at the time of purchasing your wines for the cellaring potential of each wine and write it on either the bottle or using one of the many handy apps to keep track of your personal cellar.
When buying wine, you probably have a plan as to how long you’d like to keep it for, I’d suggest that you put a sticker with the year that you plan to drink the wine in, on the top of the bottle.
The Benefits Of Buying Older Wine From A Winery
The main benefit of buying aged wine at a winery is that you can be confident that it has been stored perfectly. The way it is kept will be done in accordance with the winemaker.
Derek, our winemaker, has a vision for what his wines will be like in 5, 10 and 15 years. The best way the wines can achieve this is by being meticulously observed and tasted over time for quality assurance.
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"The most important thing to remember is, ageing wine is a hobby, so don’t get too caught up in the technicalities, just enjoy the journey!" ~ Laura Pearse