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Wine Cellaring and Storage

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  • Wine Cellaring and Storage

    As we approach the annual release of our luxury wine range, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the often overlooked area of wine cellaring and storage – both the physical storage as well as how to determine when a wine is at its drinking peak. Bottled wine is a surprisingly fragile thing, and storing it correctly (especially if the plan is to mature the wine over a number of years) is vital to ensure it develops into the best wine it can be! Below is a simple guide outlining what to do, and what not to do when it comes to looking after those cherished bottles.

    The UV in sunlight is very damaging to wine – it’s the reason red wines are bottled in coloured glass, to offer a degree of protection from these harmful rays. However to be sure, storing wine in a dark place is the safest bet.Temperature

    Wine doesn’t like extremes of temperature – too high and it can cause the wine to develop rapidly; too cold and the wine can freeze. Wine also doesn’t like rapid fluctuations in temperature, so the best scenario is to keep wine at a mild, even temperature. Some sources recommend wine should be stored at 10-16°C, however as long at the temperature is relatively constant it can be stored comfortably at up to 20°C.Traditionally both these were achieved by keeping wine in underground cellars that were cool and dark all year round. Today most of us no longer have the luxury of a cellar under the house, so a dark cupboard in the centre of the house (to minimise temperature fluctuations) or a specially designed wine cabinet are the most practical solutions.Orientation

    Wines under cork should be stored on their side to keep the wine in contact with the cork and to prevent the cork from drying out. This is much less of an issue for wine under screwcap, however most wine racks still orientate the wine on its side, and it certainly makes it easier to find and remove a bottle!When is the wine ready to drink?

    A question we are often asked is when is a wine ready to drink. This is a complex and very subjective topic! Our wines, even at the most premium level have an approachability as young wines that makes them enjoyable and rewarding on release. For these more premium wines though, they have the potential to develop and mature over a number of years - even decades. During this time they will evolve secondary characters (for red wines this may be seen as notes of leather, chocolate, tobacco or mahogany to name but a few), with the primary fruit characters gently moving from front and centre to the background. Personal preference as to the amount of development is, obviously, personal. So that’s why serious wine lovers often purchase a case of wine and open bottles periodically (maybe every couple of years for a premium red) to see how the wine is developing. Once it has reached a stage that you like (which we call the ‘peak drinking’ window), you can then choose to drink the rest of the case in the next year or two, or continue to watch as it develops further. One of the joys of using screwcaps is that the wine will age more consistently from bottle to bottle, and in a more steady manner. Under cork different bottles will age at different rates and in different ways.Wine records

    Now that you have a collection of wines, an old note book is a useful tool for recording their details in – when and where you purchased them, as well as tasting notes for each wine as you open it. This is particularly useful if you have a case of wine that you are opening over a number of years (see above). For some wine collectors, writing notes and reading back through the details of wines previously tasted is a major part of the enjoyment. Writing tasting notes is something we do constantly as winemakers and is probably one of the most mis-understood aspects of wine, so I’ll cover that in a future post. Finally for the wine-geek, there are a plethora of software solutions and mobile apps available to help track your wines and even to compare and contrast with other users.Whatever your reasons for cellaring wines, from a long term investment portfolio to the sheer pleasure of pottering over a few cases of wine picked up on annual wine tasting trips, following the simple steps above for storing wine should help ensure it continues to reward your patience and enthusiasm.