Wine notes

Mas­ter of Wine Emma Jenk­ins looks at the ad­van­tages of hav­ing your own cel­lar col­lec­tion of drink-now and save-for-later wines.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

Do you have a wine cel­lar? When most peo­ple think of cel­lar­ing wine, they think of buy­ing ex­pen­sive wine and stor­ing it in a pre­cise fash­ion un­til some dis­tant time. It all seems very se­ri­ous, not to men­tion time-con­sum­ing and costly. But I con­sider a cel­lar to be sim­ply a col­lec­tion of wine.

Yes, there may be se­ri­ous and per­haps pricey bot­tles in­tended for long-term care but, mostly, cel­lars func­tion as a se­lec­tion from which you can draw no mat­ter what the oc­ca­sion de­mands. That might be Fri­day night Cham­pers-with-fish-and-chips, the per­fect white for an im­promptu af­ter­noon with friends, or good stocks of a bar­gain red. Of course, a cel­lar al­lows you to squir­rel away wines that are in­tended to reach their peak many years from now; it’s a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to see how fine wine evolves – plus a great ex­cuse for a fu­ture fab­u­lous din­ner party of aged trea­sures! – but mostly, cel­lars are about the plea­sure and dis­cov­ery that wine of any age can bring.

If you do in­tend as­sem­bling and car­ing for a col­lec­tion of wine, it doesn’t hurt to set things up prop­erly. The sky’s the limit if your bud­get al­lows for a cus­tom-made cel­lar, but so long as you choose some­where rel­a­tively cool (12-15°C is ideal) and, more im­por­tantly, with­out sig­nif­i­cant fluc­tu­a­tion (a few de­grees across sea­sons is fine but prefer­ably not across days or weeks), that’s rel­a­tively out of the way (min­imises both vi­bra­tion dis­tur­bances and the in­evitable ill-ad­vised drunken raids), you’ll be on the right track. A sys­tem for record­ing what you store is cru­cial as it saves for­got­ten wines lan­guish­ing past their peak – there are some great apps avail­able for this task. When you can af­ford to, buy at least six bot­tles of wines you par­tic­u­larly en­joy, as this al­lows a bot­tle or so a year to be opened, let­ting you take plea­sure in their evo­lu­tion. I keep my cho­sen few in their orig­i­nal boxes and write on the out­side their an­tic­i­pated drink­ing win­dow – for ex­am­ple, 2020-2022 (err on the side of cau­tion here: it’s bet­ter to drink a wine too early than too late).

While ro­bust red wines tend to be the main­stay of a cel­lar, New Zealand’s cli­mate, cui­sine and wine­mak­ing prow­ess all de­mand a fair share be de­voted to white wine. It’s good to have ear­lier drink­ing ex­am­ples of whites and reds on hand for your reg­u­lar tip­ple – this also en­ables the more spe­cial num­bers to grow old un­mo­lested.

I’d hap­pily tuck away any of the wines be­low in my cel­lar, but you should build one to suit your tastes and needs. Af­ter all, that is the best thing of all about a cel­lar – it’s your very own, per­son­ally tai­lored wine shop, right there at home.

Mostly, cel­lars are about the plea­sure and dis­cov­ery of wine of any age.

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