A fine wine experience can be enhanced by following a few simple measures. The below information is provided as general guidance only. If you have any doubt about the right cellaring conditions for your collection, please contact us or your preferred cellaring professional for specific advice.
Cellaring Your Wine
Why cellar wines?
Simply, most quality wines improve with age. Aged wine develops greater complexity, as the chemical reactions that occur during ageing add new aromas and flavours to the wine. Ideally, buy a reasonable quantity so that you can regularly assess the development of the wine over several years.
Do all wines benefit from cellaring?
Most of Penfolds’ Bin, Luxury and Icon, Special Bin and Cellar Reserve wines will benefit from cellaring. The optimum maturation period will depend on whether the wine is red or white, its style and vintage. Red wines generally have a longer and more reliable cellaring history and the changeover to screw cap closures has had an immediate impact on maintaining freshness and quality of the wine, especially whites.
Older bottles lying on shelves for several years may not have their original freshness. White wines are especially vulnerable to fluctuations in heat. It is best to avoid old vintages of commercial wines, unless they have been kept at home or you know where the wines have been stored.
Where is the best place to store my wines?
Wine collectors have the option of cellaring their wine at home or in public storage. If you are unable to provide appropriate conditions for your wine and your wine is a significant investment, then professional wine storage may be the solution.
Should you wish to store your wines at home, wine storage cabinets (wine fridges) have become a very economical and practical way of keeping wine, especially in warmer climates and high-density living areas. These cabinets are made to cellaring specifications.
The key issues are - keep your wine in a cool secure place, and avoid temperature variation. A constant temperature of 18 degrees Celsius is better than 14 to 26 degrees Celsius over a year. The cellaring conditions need to be dark, and free from vibration.
Always lay your bottles on the side
Bottles should be stored on their sides to ensure the cork remains wet. Corks can dry out if a bottle is left standing up, which will lead to ingression of air and oxidation. Screw-capped bottles are more resilient, but it’s still best to have these bottles lying down, so that if a bottle is damaged you will identify leaking earlier.
How long will a wine improve in the bottle?
It is difficult to predict when a wine will be at its best. Do you enjoy a wine with the vibrant flavours of youth, or the more mellow, softer complexity of a fully matured wine? Is your preference for a red wine with predominant primary fruit characters, or a more mature red, which gives impressions of coffee, cedar or tobacco and less tannic astringency? It is very much a case of individual preference.
It is important to remember that smaller bottles will mature more quickly than standard bottles or magnums, as the proportion of air in the ullage space to the volume of wine is higher.