How to Cellar Your Wines Correctly

By: WineMarketDate: 15/07/2014

For the most part, people tend to think that under the bed, in a cupboard, in the laundry, tucked into sock drawers or stacked in racks next to the TV constitutes and cellar… and who is going to challenge that kind of ingenuity or personal approach to wine storage? Sure, you might end up cracking something you shouldn’t have in the wee hours after a couple of Chateau Blotto’s and a big glass of Goonbag Estate, but at least the wine is handy, right?

Well, cellaring these days is becoming a much more refined art. There are storage facilities competing for your vinous treasure trove, eager to spray ozone, have back-to-base security alarms for untoward spikes or drops in humidity, fingerprint entry systems to access your wine caves and a temperature control unit that would outstrip the Nobel Prize for Science’s attempts at cryogenics.

That being said, wine cellaring at professional facilities can be very much for those seeking to build a cellar to rival the great wine lists of the world, and if that’s your game plan, good work, professional cellaring facilities really do take wine storage to the next level. But if your ideal of a cellar is something a step above where you wash your underpants or store your potting mix, then here are some tips for the intrepid collector.

1.Make sure that the place you select has a temperature that stays pretty even. The ideal is stable temperature somewhere between 14 and 18 degrees celcius
2.Humidity is the greatest variable and thing that can affect wine quality – try and find a spot that has stable humidity, especially if your wine is under cork seal. The ideal is somewhere around 75% humidity
3.Out of direct sunlight. Treat wine bottles like vampires. Sun doesn’t help wine get better; in fact it can make wine much worse, quickly.
4.Next to machinery like dryers or fridges can mean the wine is getting heated up and cooled down when the appliance is working hardest – this can cook your wine. Not good.
5.We like good vibrations, wine doesn’t – keep it away from things that rumble, roll, rattle or shake.
6.Cellaring for each wine varies, so it’s best to get a couple of bottles of special wines you want to taste when aged, and try them over staggered periods

Wine Cellaring Guide (a ballpark estimate to some ideal cellaring times)

Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet blends/Bordeaux blends: Depending on the quality of the wine, most will age 3-10 years, but special wines/prestige wines can age up to 30 years or more, with 10-20 years a sweet spot 
Cabernet Shiraz/Grenache Shiraz Mourverdre/red blends: 3-10 years 
Chardonnay: 0-10 years 
Merlot: Again, depending on quality, somewhere between 2-10 years, but some exceptional Bordeaux wines can go longer 
Pinot Noir: 2-15 years, but many are meant for earlier consumption 
Riesling: 0-20 years, though some say there is a ‘flat spot’ in cellarin, this is looking less and less to be the case 
Semillon (particularly Hunter Valley): 0-30 years, the best wines become honeyed and toasty with age 
Shiraz: 2-15 years, however it is clear that some exceptional examples will go much longer than 20 years 
Sparkling wines non-vintage/Champagne non-vintage: best drunk young and fresh 
Sparkling wines vintage/Champagne vintage: 3-20 years

Cellars of note:

Caves: natural caves have been found to be relatively even in temperature and humidity, which can make for an ideal natural cellar 
Under-the-house-sandstone-cellar: If you are going to dig out under your house, natural sandstone cellars can be really good for wine storage 
Wine Fridges: Even humidity. Even temperature. Convenient, neat and tidy. What’s not to like? 
Spiral staircase cellars: Built at a high cost and looking very impressive, these relatively new structures can be built into floors for maxing out wine storage 
Dungeons: Thankfully not many of these around these days, but if you own a castle or a fort… 
Wine Storage Facilities: Hi-tech, fully equipped, excellent staff, lots of access and importantly, for those late nights, not at your house!

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