10 tips to cellar wine

Cellaring wine might seem daunting, but follow these 10 general rules for selecting, storing and enjoying your wines, and you'll have the ultimate collection in no time.

Cellaring wine can seem like tricky business, but it’s easy when you know how.

Knowing the wines that will last the distance, how to store them and when to drink them at their peak are all critical to great cellaring experiences. While a solid wine collection will always come down to knowing your preferred styles and how they might age, there are a few other ways to minimise disappointment and create the optimal cellaring conditions.  

    01. Store them right

    In an ideal wine world, every collector would have a purpose-built home cellar where bottles are kept cool, dry and out of direct light. But if you can ensure a temperature of between 12 to 15 degrees that avoids fluctuation as much as possible, your work is pretty much done. Consider wine fridges or off-site storage if your home doesn’t offer the right conditions.

    02. Lie cork down

    Screwcap-sealed bottles can stand for a lifetime and it won’t affect the wine, but those with cork need to be placed on their side so the traditional seal doesn’t dry out. Otherwise, it won’t be long before the elements get in and diminish the quality of the wine.

    03. Log your wines

    Whether it’s in a spreadsheet or notepad, via an app or Virtual Cellar function of winecompanion.com.au (see note below), it doesn’t matter; track what’s in your collection. Even better if your system includes notes on price, drink-by dates, relevant scores or awards, and tasting notes so you have everything in the one place.

    04. Load up

    Those in the know are unanimous on this one – buy more than one bottle (six is the recommended magic number, but three is good too) so you can try the wines at various times to assess how it’s developing. This will give you a fighting chance of knowing when the wine will peak, while also enjoying it along the way.

    05. Don’t forget whites

    Reds may get a lot of the glory when it comes to cellaring, but whites can be stunning with age. Look to riesling, chardonnay and semillon in particular; the best performers from the right regions will develop into gloriously complex wines.

    06. Mix it up

    You may be obsessed with a particular wine style right now, but by the time these wines are at their best, your tastes may well have moved on. Hedge your bets – follow wine news and social media for releases and recommendations so you can cellar some different styles too. Just in case.

    07. Stash some pinot

    If you’re not yet into pinot noir, include a few good picks in your collection. See tip 06 – your future self will thank you.

    08. Seek balance

    Age on a good wine will help its aromas, flavours, texture and structure to evolve and flourish, but it won’t turn a below-par wine into something amazing. Always seek balance in the wines you’re selecting – this quality should show on release.

    09. Invite the right people

    There are friends and family who will appreciate a fine aged wine and love the fact you’re sharing it with them. Then there are those who will refill their glass without so much as glancing at the label. Choose wisely.

    10. Throw caution to the wind

    That elusive ‘right occasion’ to open a good wine can often come much too late. Create the occasion by cracking something great and celebrate the fact that you didn’t miss the boat.

Get organised in the Virtual Cellar

You’ve followed the tips, you’re acquiring some great wines and your collection is stacking up. How do you keep it in order? When you become a Halliday Wine Companion member, members gain access to the Virtual Cellar. Here, you can manage your collection by adding wines as you acquire them to your own ‘virtual cellar’, which stores their details in the one place. It can record a wine that’s been tasted by James Halliday and the tasting team, as featured on the site, or any other Aussie or international wine you may have discovered. The virtual cellar stores how much you paid, how many bottles you have, where it’s stored and the wine’s drinking window, among other details. You can even set custom alerts for when to open certain wines and add your own comments to any wine in your collection.