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Wine Storage - To Cellar or Not to Cellar

December 08, 2021 by Antone Boustani

Wine bottle storage usage is on the rise. In particular, red wine storage. We’ve all heard stories about legendary wines opened 60 years after bottling where the critics all agreed it was the perfect time to open that wine. Touted as one of the best wines of the 20th century, some critics believe the 1961 Château Latour may need another 20 years in the cellar before reaching its peak. Our tasting panel recently opened the Dow’s 1977 Porto and although absolutely delicious it displayed youthful tannins that needed another decade to reach the stage of maturity it was destined for. But occasionally we taste perfectly aged wines, like the Château Belair St.-Émilion 1990, that enter a realm beyond description and provide an experience that can only be called sublime.

Not all wines become fairy tales after years in the cellar. Two months ago a friend brought over a 1975 Chianti. We poured it and instead of its normal crimson colour it was burnt orange. Another friend opened a 1985 Beaujolais Nouveau for Christmas dinner. Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine that is sold less than two months after the harvest and all over France people with purple teeth revel in the streets as if it were New Year’s Eve. The wine isn’t supposed to be kept long after this celebration, let alone for 20 years. I tasted it just for fun, and it had ventured far beyond the vinegar stage to the just-plain-bad stage.

Keeping a wine too long is one problem, but opening a wine too soon is another. Last week I opened a bottle of Patricia Green Cellars Pinot Noir Washington County 2003 – the fruits were tart and tightly woven, meaning it needed at least a couple of years before they would develop into the expressive, delicious flavours we love about Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs.

Wine is a living and breathing thing, and like a person it goes through stages of infancy, maturity and old age. Some wines reach maturity very quickly while others are heartier and need a decade or two for each facet of the wine to join together in harmony. Drinking wines that are a touch young can still be enjoyable, but sometimes you’ll realize that they had potential to be so much more.

Almost every wine available at the grocery store is designed for early consumption. Fruit forward wines from Australia, New Zealand, North and South America and South Africa typically need to be consumed within 2-3 years. Many European wines also lack the structure necessary to help a wine age gracefully. In fact, there are many variables used to determine a wine’s age worthiness, including a wine’s vintage, varietal, quality, and winemaking techniques used. But sometimes it’s difficult to determine a wine’s aging potential without tasting a barrel sample or popping a cork shortly after the wine is bottled.

Young wines that tend to age the best display pronounced tannins, acidity or sugar, all of which are natural preservatives. Big reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo, have the best aging potential because of their intense tannins. White Burgundies and Rieslings from Germany and Aslace make up for their lack of tannins with high acidity levels. Meanwhile, dessert wines like Sauternes and German Beerenausleses contain high amounts of sugar that help them age gracefully. But these wines also require vivacious fruit and a firm structure that will stick around until the tannins and acidity soften.

Until you start to become more serious about collecting wine or start purchasing bottles priced over $25, don’t worry about trying to age the wine you purchase. But if you’re looking to shed your newbie status and don a pair of spectacles, one of the quickest ways is to start a wine cellar with plenty of age-worthy wines. Here is a quick list of regions and varietals that tend to age the best:

• Alsace, France – Gewürztraminers and Rieslings
• Bordeaux, France – reds and whites from Cru Producers.
• Bugrundy, France – reds and whites labeled Grand Cru or Premier Cru
• Champagne, France – vintage Champagnes
• Germany and Austria – fine Rieslings
• Italy – robust reds such as Barbaresco, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Taurasi
• Portugal – vintage Ports
• Spain – reds from the Rioja and Priorato regions
• United States – Cabernet Sauvignon made by notable California producers

Things to consider

– Don’t fill your cellar with the wines you like at the moment. The temptation may be strong to buy cases and half-cases, but I guarantee that your tastes will change, and then you’ll be left with a cellar full of wines that, no matter how well rated by the critics, you won’t feel like drinking.

– For this reason, buy experimental bottles in preference to full cases. There are just so many wines out there, of so many different styles, that it makes sense to buy plenty of ‘educational’ bottles.

– Attend as many tastings as you can. Taste and learn. But remember to spit!

– Remember to take the opinions and advice of wine ‘experts’ with a pinch of salt. If any wine ‘expert’ is worth listening to, they’ll be humble enough to acknowledge that they are fallible and that their expertise can by necessity only cover certain areas.  

– Don’t fall into the trap of exclusively seeking out highly-rated or expensive wines. The temptation to do this can be strong, especially if you have plenty of disposable income. Instead, drink widely and build up a context from which to then fully appreciate the more stellar wines. You’ll also find it easier to mould your own opinion.

– Get good advice on what to try, either from a merchant who you trust, or from a critic whose palate seems to match with yours.

– Keep notes on all the wines you try. At first you may not be very sure of what you are writing, but gradually your confidence will grow. It is also interesting to see how your perception of certain wines changes with experience!

– Read as much as you can. There are many excellent reference works around.

– If you get the chance, visit some wine country. There is nothing like visiting the vineyards where the grapes are grown — putting wine in its natural context — to bring a wine to life.

Look out for

Temperature Stability – Wine will prematurely develop if stored in an environment that has large temperature variations, particularly if these occur frequently. Wine should never be stored in temperatures that are too cold (under 12ºC) as this will inhibit the development of the wine. Similarly, wine stored in temperatures that are too warm (over 19ºC) will cause overly rapid development of your wine. Our temperature control systems ensure the wine cellar temperature is very stable.

Suitable Humidity – If wine is stored in conditions that are too dry, the cork will shrink and cause leakage. Too moist, and mould and contamination may occur. Kennards Wine Storage maintains moderate humidity levels (55%-75%) to avoid these problems and assist in the optimum wine development conditions. Wine cellar climate control in a self contained wine cooling unit is the answer.

Movement & Handling – Wine is a very sensitive and fragile item. Frequent jolts or vibrations during its development can be detrimental. The best cellars will leave your wine untouched and not moved unnecessarily. At Kennards Wine Storage no one else has access to your wine, so all movement and handling is performed by you.

Light & Storage – Frequent exposure to light is not good for wine development. Your cellar should have minimal light. Wine Bottles should be laid on their sides to keep the corks moist, help prevent cork shrinkage, and allow air to oxidise the wine.

Temptation Resistant – Undoubtedly, the biggest villain in premature consumption of your wine is you! Out-of-home cellaring with Kennards gives your wine more hope.

Keep in mind this is a general guideline. The wine could age better or worse depending on variables such as the vintage or the winemaker’s techniques. For example, 1997 and 1999 red wines from Bordeaux should be consumed young, while the same wines grown in 1998 or 2000 could use some time in the cellar. Be sure to check out our wine database for drinking recommendations on individual wines, or drop a line in the discussion board if you have any questions or concerns.

Storing wine is a passion of Kennards Self Storage. Kennards Storage has purpose built wine storage cabinets in temperature controlled environment that is accessible 24 hours a day. Wine storage can be easy to organise. Self storage is great because you get your own space and there are no lock in contracts meaning you only pay for the days used. The quoted amount is for a one month period. Pay for that period and then get a refund for the days not used if you move out before months end. This pro-rata amount is calculated to the day you finish. Kennards moving boxes range includes the wine storage box which carries 12 Bottles of wine and fits the wine storage cabinet perfectly.

Follow this Link and you will find a very easy to use Website.

You will find Kennards wine storage and be able to view prices and sizes. You can reserve or rent a space at a location near you with in a couple of clicks. From there you can then purchase wine storage boxes and get them delivered to your home or office or pick up in store. 

If you normally purchase wine online, have them delivered to your Kennards Storage facility and we will accept the delivery on your behalf and then contact you so that you can collect them and put them away. No more wine sitting at your front door waiting for you to come home.

How to store open red wine is only a problem if you let it be. There are solutions to all problems. Kennards Self storage has decades of experience in providing storage solutions to the casual drinker, the wine collector and businesses like wine importers and restaurants.

Kennards Self Storage – Creating the space for Change.

Antone Boustani

Antone joined the Kennards Self Storage in 2012 as a Team Support Manager. Progressing to the roles of NSW Rostering Co-ordinator and Waterloo Centre manager led to the position of NSW Operations Manager in 2019. Antone has gained leadership skills at previous roles as a Manager at KFC and Decorug and did run his own business a Deli / Fruit shop called Naremburn Natural. He loves that we are the people that care and how that is achieved through procedures that enable our teams to offer great customer service. He is invested in improving himself and the team around him and believes that doing what you love is the key. Outside work Antone loves travelling overseas as much as getting on the open road and you can find him watching any type of sport but especially cricket.

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