Cellaring Wine

Storing Your Wine

At Henschke, we recommend that you cellar your wine in ideal conditions, as outlined below; however, this is not always possible. Our vintage charts represent optimum drinking age in relation to ideal conditions; therefore we would recommend consuming the wines sooner if stored outside of these conditions.

Purchasing Your Wine

Cases are best despatched by refrigerated transport (this will vary among distributors), and will then be stored in a wide range of wholesale and retail outlets. Some of these will have temperature-controlled cellars, but many do not. It pays to buy from a reputable merchant with good in-house storage. Direct purchase from the winery is also an option to consider, especially if the wine can be transported in a cool vehicle.

Cellaring of Wines

The most important factor affecting the ageing of wine is the conditions in which it is stored.

Bottles sealed with cork must be stored on their side so that the cork remains moist, stopping air from entering the wine, which causes it to become oxidised. Storage in very dry areas (eg, air-conditioning) can also cause more rapid drying of the cork. Bottles sealed with screw caps or Vino-Lok closures can be stored upright.

It is recommended that white wines be cellared from 7-12C and from 12-18C for red wines. The storage area must be cool as warmer conditions will increase the rate at which a wine ages. A wine stored in a cupboard in a centrally heated/air-conditioned apartment with an average temperature of 22C would age more quickly than wine matured in an underground cellar with an average temperature of 14C, and therefore would be best consumed sooner.

A constant temperature is the most critical factor in cellaring wine. Extremes of temperature can cause rapid maturation and/or spoilage of wine, especially where extremes of heat are concerned. A few minutes in a hot car at 45C can cause a wine to mature rapidly; an hour would spoil it totally. Fluctuations in temperature increase the rate of ageing reactions in the wine, and if sealed with a cork closure, will place pressure on the cork due to the repeated expansion/contraction of the wine inside the bottle.

Light can also increase the rate of ageing in wine, and can spoil it over time. This is particularly applicable to UV light, and therefore it is recommended that wine be stored in a dark place.

A word from Stephen Henschke...

Vino-Lok Closure

'I love tradition, and it is very important to us as a five-generation family winery. However, when tradition lets you down as it has with cork, then it is time to evaluate better closures.

Screwcap is close to being the perfect closure for wine; however it is not properly understood, as it should be, as a quality closure in some market places. Prue and I discovered the Vino-Lok at the Stuttgart Intervitis in 2004. We were very impressed by the high quality finish of the glass stopper and environmental advantages. It had won the European Innovation Award.

 ‘Not long after that we brought the first Vino-Lok closures to Australia and embarked on a five-year trial, conducted with the Australian Wine Research Institute, to do the due diligence. The quality of presentation, reliability and robustness of the glass stopper makes it an ideal replacement for cork. Cork has a failure rate of between 10 and 50%. Vino-Lok at the same cost has close to zero. Red wine in a 750ml bottle ages under Vino-Lok as if it were bottled in a large-format bottle, it maintains its colour, aroma and structure over a longer period of time.'