A rewarding hobby, a trip down memory lane or bit of a bore? We explore the what, why, where and how of cellaring wine
When most of us think wine cellars we think luxury, we think sophistication and we think, much like growing your own vegetables or learning a second language, that a wine cellar embodies rather a satisfying achievement in life.
But the truth is, not all wines actually need to be cellared – a significant number of wines are put to market within two years of being grapes on the vine and are designed to be joyously slurped within six months of purchase. However, cellaring the right drop can bring about immense satisfaction for both the palate and the nostalgic mind…
Aside from the allure of luxury and the sense of suspense and surprise, most people cellar wine for nostalgic reasons, for the purpose of collecting from certain vintages or a specific terroir or simply for the pleasure of enjoying the flavours of matured wine. Cellaring the right wines will allow for tannins, acid and fruit to all harmonise in a tantalising symphony and will be well worth the wait.
Drink in 1 – 3 years: Pinot gris, gewurztraminer, moscato, viognier.
Drink in 3 – 5 years: Syrah, malbec, riesling, oaked chardonnay.
Drink in 5 - 10 years: Chenin blanc, top end pinot noir, special dessert wines.
Drink in 10 – 20 years: Bordeaux blends, cabernet sauvignon, sauternes.
A bit of TLC: The main thing to keep in mind when cellaring wine is that wine is a living thing. It is constantly changing, particularly when under cork and reacts to the elements. Therefore, it needs love and consideration.
Keep your cool: Wine favours cool, dry and dark conditions. In its box in a cupboard is a simple and excellent cellaring option, or a space under the house. It is vital that a consistent temperature is maintained – between 12 to 16 degrees celsius is ideal.
Bad vibrations: Wine reacts badly to too much movement, so find a place where very few vibrations will occur and where the wine bottles can lie horizontally with the liquid touching the cork.
To cellar or not to cellar? We share some Toast top picks for drinking now or saving for later: