Have Your Wine & Drink It Too!
ENJOYING WINE IS EASY, BUT LIKE THE AGING OF A FINE WINE, TRANSFORMING THIS INTEREST INTO A PASSION TAKES PATIENCE AND COMMITMENT. HERE, TEGAN LYON WILL HELP YOU LAY THE GROUNDWORK TO START YOUR VERY OWN WINE COLLECTION, TAKING YOU FROM A NOVICE TO AN AFICIONADO IN THE TIME IT TAKES TO READ THIS SIMPLE GUIDE.
Today, there is such an urgency for fast consumption and instant gratification that purchasing a bottle of wine for the purpose of saving it seems like the antithesis of our modern society. Yet, there is something inexplicably
romantic about saving a bottle for life’s milestones – and everything in between. Learning the basic principles of purchasing, collecting and storing your wine will ensure that the payoff for your patience will be well worth the wait.
WHICH WINES ARE WORTH THE WAIT?
The most vital thing you can first learn about wines is that they continue to evolve and change as they age. In young wine, it is easy to taste primary flavours and aromas, namely fruit. Different chemical reactions occur the longer a wine spends in a bottle. As time passes, new, complex notes will emerge in the taste, texture and aroma of the wine, while those prominent fruit flavours will subside. Bearing this in mind, only a small portion of wines – approximately one percent across the globe – should be cellared.
The remaining ninetynine percent of wines are best consumed within the first few years after they are produced, with long-term aging having little-to-no effect on its quality. Judging which bottles should be cellared may seem daunting for an inexperienced wine-lover, but there are a few general rules to guide you through this process.
Full-bodied wines that benefit most from the aging process are robust reds such as a bordeaux, rhône or merlot, to name a few. While it is true that red wine will often mature better than its white counterparts, certain white wines – particularly riesling – are worth cellaring due to their highly acidic nature that mellows with age. It is important to consider the value of each bottle, as any bottle within the range of $30–$50 is best enjoyed in its youth and won’t be improved by cellaring. As your collection continues to grow, you can adjust your budget accordingly, particularly after you have discovered the grapes and regions you prefer.
CELLAR-BRATE THE RIGHT WAY
Imagine the anticipation of opening a bottle after waiting five, ten or fifteen years, only to taste that first sip and discover you’ve turned your precious bordeaux into vinegar. This kind of misstep can be avoided by cellaring your wine in optimal conditions. Temperature plays a key part in maintaining the integrity of wine. Warm temperatures will quickly speed up chemical reactions within the bottle, ‘cooking’ the wine.
For slow, steady maturation, wine should be stored between twelve and fifteen degrees Celsius. Ultraviolet light also poses a problem for long-term cellaring, so ensure your collection is stored in a dark place.
Humidity is also a factor to consider, as air that is too dry or damp will impact the cork and allow unwanted oxygen to enter the bottle. A humidity level between the range of fifty-five and seventy-five percent is ideal for preserving your bottle.
Vibration will also cause a chemical imbalance in your wine, permanently altering the texture, flavour and aroma, so it’s best to keep your cellar away from household items like washing machines, dryers and fridges.
While you may dream about building and customising your very own wine cellar, it’s important to consider the cost of this venture. There is little point in spending upwards of $15,000 for maximum storage if your collection is still in its infancy.
Not everyone has the luxury of an inbuilt cellar in their home, but don’t let this dissuade you from starting your wine collection. Home wine bars and cabinets are a great alternative for smaller collections that won’t break the bank.
BID TO YOUR HEART’S CONTENT
Now that you understand the specifics of storing your wine, your collecting journey can truly begin! For new buyers, it is great to first dip your toe by visiting specialist wine shops and reputable wineries for tastings. Beware of retail markets as they include a significant mark-up, which is designed to cover the retailer’s overhead expenses.
Ultimately, buying wine at an auction offers greater value for those serious about expanding their wine collection. As Australia receives limited imports of international wine, our wine auctions tend to trade primarily in homegrown, high-end wine labels, including Penfolds Grange, Henschke Hill of Grace and Torbreck The Laird.
Live wine auctions are a rare breed in Australia, limited mostly to charity events. However, this year’s Barossa Wine Auction held at Lambert Estate saw a recordbreaking price per lot, indicating that there is still interest in live bidding.
Nowadays, online wine auctions are a prominent fixture in the collector community. Most reputable auction houses will charge a small fee for a yearly subscription, allowing wine enthusiasts the chance to bid on rare and fine wines during their monthly auctions. For wine-lovers still getting their feet wet, auction houses like Wickman’s Fine Wine and Sterling offer a free membership.
Auctions can be a ruthless sport, so it’s important to bid with your eyes open and avoid nasty, hidden costs. Ensure you read the entire listing carefully as a lot’s starting bid can be easily misinterpreted as a total price, rather than a price per bottle. When placing your bid, make sure to factor in the cost of shipping, any sales tax and the buyer’s premium – an additional figure that ranges between ten to thirty percent of the total winning bid. Online wine auctions typically last for a week, affording you the luxury of time to browse for the perfect bottle.
It’s easy to get caught up in watching your wine collection grow, but there’s no use in solely filling a cellar with wine that you can’t touch for another ten years. When collecting wine, it’s a smart move to drink a portion of what you purchase and invest the rest, giving you a firsthand taste of how your bottles will change over the years