Sponsored How to age wine: The tips & tricks of the trade

How to age wine: The tips & tricks of the trade

Red and White glasses on a barrel
These simple tips for ageing wine will help extend the life of your wine and your cellar. Photo: Wine Selectors
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Ever wondered why we age wine, what makes aged wine so special, or what’s the best way of ageing wine? Find out with our friends at Wine Selectors!

If you’re wanting to establishing a wine collection, it’s relatively easy to age wines at home. Let’s begin with what happens in the bottle as you age wine.

For the most part –

  • Red wines become lighter in colour, while white wines become darker.
  • Primary fruit aromas merge into a more complex ‘bouquet’ as secondary (bottle age) characters mingle with the remaining primary (fruit) characters.
  • Powerful fruity flavours change into and mix with subtler savoury ones.
  • Acidity and tannin levels fall away, soften, and all elements integrate.

Now, let’s look at some tips and tricks of the trade on how to age wine!

1. Which wines age well?

Some  of  Australia’s  most  famous  region-variety  combinations  are  also  our  best  wines  for ageing.  These  include: Hunter  Valley  Semillon, Coonawarra  Cabernet  Sauvignon, Clare  Valley Riesling,  Barossa  Shiraz,  and  Tasmanian  Premium  Sparkling.

Beyond  these  iconic  wines,  there  are  certain  characteristics  to  look  out  for  which  indicate  if  a wine  is  worth  putting  away.

One  of  the  most  indicative  is  whether  the  wine  has  a  good  structure –  that is, adequate  acidity  –  and,  in  the  case  of  red  wines,  firm  tannins.  Essentially,  acidity  and tannins  are  your building  blocks  for a  wine  with  ageing  potential.

If you’re  just not  sure,  the  pedigree  of  the  winery  or  previously  successful  vintages  can  be  a useful  guide  to  a  wine’s  potential.

Also,  whether  you  buy  your  wine  direct  from  cellar  doors  or from  reputable  wine  sellers, most provide  tasting  notes  outlining  the  wine’s  peak  drinking window.

Cellaring wine is simple when you understand the basics. Photo: Wine Selectors

2. How do I cellar wine?

If you have a space in your home that’s reasonably dark, away from sunlight, and can be kept at a cool and steady temperature, you’re good to go.

Consistent temperatures of between 12°C to 14°C are key. While small temperature swings are okay, a location near a window, refrigerator, or hot water tank is not advisable.

Keep your bottles in the dark as light has adverse effects on the quality of your wine. It’s also best to avoid vibrations, i.e., washing machines not great cellaring buddies.

The ideal humidity level should be about 50%. Lay your bottles on their side if you’re cellaring bottles with cork closures. This helps keep the cork exposed to the wine within, preventing it from drying out and breaking apart. Bottles with screw cap closures can be stored upright.

3. How long should I cellar my wines for?

Cellaring time depends on the variety, its initial qualities, the vintage, and whether your cellar is kept at optimal conditions.

We recommend ageing:

  • Up to 2 years: for Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Vermentino
  • Up to 5 years: for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot
  • Up to 10 years: Riesling, Semillon, Malbec
  • Up to 15 years: Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz

4. Can I buy wine that’s already aged?

Absolutely! It’s easy to enjoy aged wines without having to do it yourself. Wine Selectors have you covered!

Choose from wines perfect for ageing, top shelf expressions guaranteed to please, and ultra-premium wines for extra special occasions. Handpicked by the Tasting Panel experts, it’s simply a better way to buy Australian wine.