How to cellar wine at home

Published by Tamara Harrison - 15th Jun 2020

You need two things to age wine at home. 

Willpower and a wine cellar (or something similar)…

So if you’re a model of self control with a cold, dark nook to hand, buying wines to put away to enjoy another year might appeal to you.

Why cellar a wine for a few years?

Just like us, many wines get more interesting as they age. They develop heaps of new flavours and textures as they jostle for position in the bottle. 

The mouth-puckering tannins – synonymous with reds – and natural fruit acids that were big and bossy before, soften. 

The fresh fruit flavours that bounced off your tongue mellow to a deliciously different level of juiciness.

And they become a more suave and sophisticated wine.

But don’t cellar just any wine

Not every wine is made for cellaring though. The type and quality of the wine has to be good enough in the first place.

To age well without losing all its delicious charm, a wine needs a fair whack of tannin and fruit acid to begin with. 

‘Big’ reds lend themselves to this – think robust Cabernet Sauvignon, Meaty Malbec, and powerful Tempranillo and Shiraz. You could lay down a decent bottle of these varieties for anywhere between 5-20 years (the label will tell you exactly how long). 

Lighter-bodied reds like Pinot Noir, Merlot and Grenache will also age well, but for not as long. You’re typically looking at 3-5 years here.

Many white wines, especially Aussie ones, don’t benefit as much from cellaring as their red cousins. This is mainly because they lack the tannin structure of reds. 

That said, the natural fruit acids in some white wines can take it to some interesting places over time. A crisp Semillon, Riesling or Chardonnay can be laid down for up to 10 years and transform interestingly before the flavour falls flat.

Where to store if your don’t have a wine fridge

Let’s face it, not many people have one! But if you’ve got somewhere dark with an even low temperature, that’s a good solution. 

The most important thing to remember is to keep your wine at a consistent temperature. It’s better to be in a warm but consistent spot than somewhere really cold and then really hot. 

And there’s no need to lie wine on its side unless you have a cork in the bottle.

Just a little more patience before you sip…

One last point. If you’ve gone to the effort of waiting patiently for a wine to age, give it the proper treatment just before you drink it. 

Open the bottle an hour or so before you intend to enjoy it, to let the wine breathe. It really will make a world of difference to your experience!