This post is not only for collectors and experts, but also bargain hunters who wouldn’t pass on a wine deal opportunity after stumbling upon it. There are plenty of great bargains you can get on wines, but that often means you'll end up having to buy dozens of bottles. Which isn’t really a problem, but what do you do with all that wine?
You can of course try to drink it yourself or otherwise give some of it away (gifts, dinner parties, wine tasting evenings, etc), but for many spending often out strips their rate of consumption/gifting.
So if you're sitting on a surplus at home, what I recommend is that you look into exactly what wines you’ve got in your repertoire, checking which ones you should drink first and which are the ones to keep. It's also a good idea when initially purchasing wine to take into consideration whether or not it's one that ages well.
How do yo know which wines age well?
Wines are like people (see another example in my last weeks’s blog post), some ages well, some do not. There are four traits which experts look at when deciding on which ones do - these include acidity, tannins, alcohol levels and residual sugar.
Your check-list for the wines you want to store should look something like this:
High acidity levels - Simple it is, wines with higher acidity levels age better. These levels slowly decrease over the years, so starting high is essential to conserve the wine without ruining its properties.
Strong tannins - Tannins also break down over the years, so starting a bit harsh won’t hurt, quite the contrary it will eventually result in a round and smooth palate. Although it’s important that you start off with well balanced tannins between the grape and the wood in a particular wine, otherwise not even time can help to improve the given red or white.
Nebbiolo wines give you both of these characteristics, which are often described as “tar and roses”. Although you can get your hands on a 2006 vintage premium Australian Nebbiolo “coincidently” labeled Tar & Roses for $38.99 a bottle at Dan Murphy’s ($37.05 in a case of six), I would recommend to go for a Barolo Nebbiolo, which is the most famous and prestigious Nebbiolo-based wine.
A reasonably priced Italian Barolo Nebbiolo which fits the next criteria on the list (alcohol levels) as well, is the 2008 vintage Manfredi Patrizi Barolo. I saw this listed in a case of six at Dan Murphy’s for $281.95, which works out at $47.49 a bottle. Besides the fact that this wine sells for over $50 a bottle elsewhere, the free metro delivery voucher would also sway me to get the case from Dan’s.
Alcohol levels - Here it’s important to make a distinction between fortified (i.e. port wine) and non- fortified wines. Fortified wines with levels between 17% and 20% ABV have the longest life expectancy, however high alcohol levels in non-fortified wines can turn your vintage into vinegar. To stay below 14% ABV should be a good tier to set for yourself, as anything over that will most likely spoil a non-fortified wine over the years.
Residual Sugar - Despite the fact that the trendiest wines to store are dry reds, sweet wines like port and sherry age the best and can be drank even after a whopping 100 years. Also, Botrytis affected grapes are used to produce iconic dessert wines with high residual sugar content. Check out this bundle deal at Cellarmasters which includes three quality Botrytis “stickies” for less than $20 a bottle (they’ve also got a 20% off and a free shipping voucher valid this weekend - unfortunately you can't stack these at Cellarmasters).
As you can see most of the wines I have showed as an example above have been ageing for over 5 years. Reason for that is the obvious - qualities such as high acidity and too strong tannins are not exactly considered to be something you want a premium wine to feature.