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Elevating wine through cellaring

There are a number of factors that influence the ageing process of a wine, such as the variety, the wine style and the region or terroir’ where the grapes are grown. There are techniques a winemaker can use that support the graceful ageing of a wine for the long term, but as is the magic of wine, the act of cellaring will always involve embracing elements of the unknown. For reasons we cannot predict, opening a bottle of aged wine on a certain day may lead to a once in a lifetime tasting experience.

The purpose of cellaring

So why do we age wines, and in particular red wine? Tannins, the naturally bitter compounds found in grape skins, play a significant role in the ageing of red wine. Different red wine varieties naturally have different tannin concentrations. Wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, for example, will generally have more tannins than Grenache and Pinot Noir. Typically, the more tannin in a wine, the longer the wine will age. Over time, tannin molecules combine to create fine sediment in the bottle, making the wine softer and smoother on the palate.
Many white wines can also age exceptionally well, such as Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay and Viognier. These varieties age well by virtue of their varietal characteristics. Other white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris tend to be made for immediate enjoyment. Like all things, there are exceptions to these rules so if unsure, it’s best to speak with the winemaker or wine merchant, and don’t be afraid to experiment yourself!

Yalumba’s Cellaring Rituals

To learn more about cellaring wine and how to create ideal storage conditions in your home, read our own cellaring rituals below.

  • Constant temperature and humidity is key

    At Yalumba, we cellar our wines within the range of 17 – 19 degrees Celsius for both red and white wines. However, consistent temperature and humidity is more important that the actual temperature.

    We are extremely fortunate to have an underground Museum Cellar with ideal cellaring conditions all year round. If you do not have access to an underground cellar, then investing in a wine fridge is a great way to maintain cellaring temperatures at home. Another option is to store the wine in the centre of your house, such as in a linen cupboard, away from external walls where the temperature change is the greatest. To further insulate your wines, you can also use a recycled styrofoam box to store your finest bottles, which will help to further insulate against temperature changes.

    There are also custom wine storage facilities in some cities that will cellar and manage your wines for you in perfect conditions.

  • Store wines lying down

    When cellaring a wine with a cork closure, we always store the bottle lying down. This will help keep the cork wet and avoid this natural product from drying out. When a cork dries out, it may crumble on opening. Visit our decanting rituals to learn what to do if this happens to you.

  • Keep bottles away from the light

    Exposure to light can cause some wine to develop in the bottle prematurely. For longevity, it’s best to keep your wine in the dark.

  • Taste and test

    We recommend, if possible, to store more than one bottle of a wine of the same vintage. This will allow you to open a bottle and taste how it’s ageing. This may increase your chances of tasting the wine at its optimum drinking window.

  • Keep a record

    Keeping a record of your ageing wines will mean you are less likely to miss an optimal drinking window. Information on a wines ageing potential can be obtained from a number of sources, including speaking to the person selling you the wine or contacting the winery directly. If your bottle is a specific and renowned wine, you may find websites that discuss how a particularly vintage is drinking. You can learn more about the cellaring potential of specific Yalumba Rare & Fine wines on our back vintage resource.

  • When to drink

    We believe the best time to drink a wine is a personal decision. If you enjoy primary fruit flavours such as red berries and cherries, as well as brightness and tannins, then you may wish to open a bottle of wine in its earlier years of ageing. If you prefer secondary characters like cigar box and leather, a smoother palate and softer tannins, then you may enjoy wines with more bottle age.

    Our Rare & Fine wines are made from the very best fruit using the best wine making techniques. By having patience and allowing them time to ferment, we can ensure our wines have time to settle into the best version of themselves. Under our watchful eye, we usually store them two years in barrel followed by a further two years in bottle before releasing for sale.

    Some wines are made to be enjoyed soon after release, whilst others may reward the drinker with a few years of age. In all instances, we do our best to match our wines to the moment. An everyday wine needs to reward the wine lover with consistency and readily available enjoyment, so we craft these wines to provide immediate gratification.


  • What wines require the least amount of cellar time?

    We don’t like to pigeon hole wines but as a general rule of thumb, less expensive wines are made to be enjoyed while they are young and vibrant. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, bright Rose and delicate reds such as Grenache, Pinot Noir and lighter styles of Shiraz are all great young.

  • What wines are best for mid to long term cellaring?

    White varieties like Riesling, Chardonnay and Viognier will usually be well suited for cellaring 25 years. This is also the case for medium bodies reds like Pinot Noir, Grenache, Merlot and Grenache Shiraz Mataro blends.

    Fine Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Cabernet Shiraz blends have a great track record for long term cellaring. When cellared well, wines like The Caley Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz, The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz, The Octavius Shiraz and The Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon will deliver great structure, balance and finesse 10 to 50 years after release.

Decant wine to refine your tasting experience

Decanting cellared wine correctly can help to enhance the flavours and remove any developed sediment in your wine.