3 Things You Need To Know About Wine

When we are out on the road with our guests we get asked a lot of questions about wine. I thought I would have a crack at answering the 3 most common ones.

1. How long can I store open wine?

As soon as you open a bottle of wine it is exposed to oxygen. What most wines have added is preservatives which slow down the chemical reaction which oxygen initiates. If you open a bottle of wine with no preservatives added, you need to drink it within a few hours. Below is a guide for wine with preservatives added.

storing open wine
Wine loses its freshness the longer it is open

When wine goes bad it develops high levels of acetic acid. It really does taste nasty and seriously life is too short for bad wine! My advice is if you know you can't drink the whole bottle within a couple of days, don't open it! The wine loses it freshness and luster and is not enjoyable at all.

2. Why should I decanter wine?

There are a few reasons why I recommend to decanter wine but let me explain what decanting wine means. It is the process of pouring the wine from the bottle into another vessel (the decanter) and then sometimes back into the bottle. I prefer to serve my wine out of the decanter but this is up to you. Red wine or high end older white wines benefit greatly from decanting.

decanting wine
Full bodied and high tannic wine benefits from decanting.

Older wines usually have a lot of sediment in the bottle so when you decanter the sediment separates and stays in the bottom of the bottle and you can enjoy your glass of wine without getting a mouthful. Many young wines can be sharp or closed on the nose. As the wine is decanted the oxygen opens the wine and helps to release the smell and flavour. Highly tannic wines benefit the most from this process especially cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.

Don't decanter young white wine, champagne or rose.

A lot of folks also ask me about aerators. I have used them a few times and they definitely help red wines to breathe and draw out the subtle bouquets and aromas of the wine. Simply hold the aerator over your glass and pour the wine from the bottle through the aerator.

red wine aerator
Aerators for red wine help to open up the wine.

3. How do I cellar wine?

If you don't have a wine fridge which is temperature and humidity controlled or a proper wine cellar, don't bother cellaring your wine. If your stored wine routinely goes above 23C you are wasting your time as it spoils the wine over time. Wine can be stored for a year or two without too much damage but anything over that you really need to get the storage area right. This is imperative if you are storing wine which has a cork.

The basics on cellaring wine:

1. Keep the temperature in the cellar consistent. The ideal temperature is 12C and any change in temperature should be slow. Above the stove in the kitchen is a no-no!!!

2. The temperature of the cellar shouldn't fluctuate more than 3C in a year.

3. Don't move the wine.

4. Keep the humidity of the cellar around 70%.

5. Wine with a cork breathes so make sure your cellar doesn't store anything with a strong smell. e.g. garlic or onions

6. Store your wine in the dark.

7. Store wine with a cork on its side. Wine needs to be in contact with the cork so that it isn't exposed to air.

8. Know how long to store each wine. I have my cellar sorted into drinking years, so each section is for a particular year.

9. Make sure you serve the wine at the right temperature. You have gone to all the trouble of storing the wine for a number of years, so don't spoil it by serving at the wrong temperature.

Rose and dry whites serve at 8-14C

Sparkling whites and champagne serve at 6-8C

Light red wine serve at 13C

Deep red wine serve at 15-19C

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