Your Guide On Cellaring Age-Worthy Wines

Wine is fermented grape juice and by definition a perishable.                   

From the winery to your door step, wines can typically undergo a lot of travelling and storage.  How we store a wine impacts its taste.  Stored in sub-optimal conditions, your wine may not be completely off, but the quality of the wine will diminish, degrade and the wine age prematurely.  Heat, light, temperature variation and oxygen are the key things to avoid.

Here is an example to show you the effect of heat and light.

Take a look at the photo above: the top bottle was stored in a cool shaded environment, whereas the bottom bottle has been left in an open living room at a temperature of about 30c.  The bottom wine colour is slightly darker, the light and warmth has aged this wine say a year or so more than if it had been stored in a cooler shaded environment – the wine will still taste ok now but with more time and darkening, the wine will be more dulled.

Here are your main tips.

Avoid a hot environment: Leave a bottle of wine in a hot sunny car for an afternoon and you’ll see the effect. The wine would end up cooked and taste off.  Similarly, when wines are imported to warm countries, if they sit a little too long on a hot dock, the wines do age faster and become less than ideal.  Keep that in mind when buying overseas.

Avoid light: Light affects wine, especially in a clear bottle, and while darker glass helps, light can still get through.  So best to store your bottles in a shaded place away from direct light.

Maintain constant temperature: Some people like to store wines in their bedrooms where the air conditioner is on at night and off during the day. This fluctuation in temperature is not ideal for wine.  Best to store your wine somewhere with constant temperature.

Minimise oxygen: Cork-finish wines are more sensitive than screwcap as air can flow through the cork.  Cork wines are best stored horizontal, then the wine is next to the cork keeping it moist and helps minimise air ie oxygen getting through and thus less oxidation.  The level of wine in the bottle can drop.  In an older bottle, if you notice the level has dropped, then the wine is likely to be oxidized.

We have just released our Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 which is featured in Halliday’s Cellaring Supplement.  Stored well this will continue to blossom and keep till 2035. 

What is wonderful about cellaring a wine is tasting it as it ages – to experience the development and change.  I like to open a wine every few months or each year to see how it morphs.  So say you buy a case, you can try a bottle every few months and see the flavours change and see when you like it best.  Our first vintage was 2005 and I am still discovering the journey of that vintage.  If you are interested in trying our Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2005, please email us at umamu@umamuestate.com