With over 165 years of winemaking experience, the Penfolds winemaking tradition is both firmly established and well proven. Spearheaded by Penfolds flagship Grange is a formidable stable of red and white wines that will reward careful cellaring. In order for your Penfolds wines to deliver their true potential, it is important to follow a few simple measures. This guide will help with the correct storage and service of your wine.
CELLARING YOUR WINE
Why cellar wines?
Simply, most high quality wines will improve with age. As a wine matures over the passage of time it will slowly evolve,developing greater complexity and bottle-aged characters. Complex reactions occur during the maturation process,
creating new aromas and flavours as the structure of the wine gradually changes. Ideally, buy a few bottles of each wine you intend to cellar and periodically assess the development of the wine. By doing so, you will discover what the ideal “drinking window” is for each of your wines, in accordance with your own palate.
Do all wines benefit from cellaring?
All Penfolds’ Bin, Luxury and Icon wines will reward careful cellaring. However, the optimum bottle maturation period will depend upon whether the wine is red or white, its “style”, the format (size) of the bottle and the vintage. Some wines are deliberately made for earlier consumption, whereas others are
crafted for the long haul.
As a rule of thumb, red wines generally enjoy longer and more predictable cellaring than white wines. However, the evolution of the screw-cap closure has had a positive impact on maintaining freshness and quality, especially with white wines. Indeed, some styles of white wine can evolve with ease for a decade or more.
Poorly stored wines may not retain their original freshness and will most likely develop faster and less predictably than bottles that have enjoyed a constant, steady maturation process in a temperature-controlled cellar or wine cabinet. Wine is especially vulnerable to fluctuations in temperature. It is always best to transport wine in cool conditions and to store wine in an
environment that minimises temperature variation.
Where is the best place to store my wines?
Wine collectors have the option of cellaring their wine at home or in public storage. If you are unable to provide appropriate conditions for your wine at home, and your collection represents significant investment, then professional
wine storage may be the solution.
If you do not have a suitable wine cellar, then a wine storage cabinet (wine fridge) is an economical and practical way of storing wine at home. They are especially useful in warmer climates and high-density living areas. Wine cabinets are designed to store bottles at the optimal temperature for longterm
The most important cellaring tip is to keep your wine in a steady, cool environment and to avoid significant temperature fluctuations. A constant temperature of 18 degrees Celsius (or less) is better for your wine than 14 to 26 degrees Celsius over a year. The cellaring conditions need to be dark, free
from vibrations and from any background odours which may permeate through cork.
Always lay bottles on their side Bottles should be stored horizontally to ensure the cork remains moist. Corks may dry out if a bottle is left standing
upright, which over time may even shrink the cork, allowing the ingress of air and resultant oxidation of the wine. Screwcapped bottles are more resilient, but it’s best to have these bottles lying down as well so that if a bottle is damaged you will identify leakage earlier. If wine is stored in racks, it is
wise to face the labels up so the whereabouts of the sediment
is obvious. This is advantageous when decanting the wine.
How long will a wine improve in the bottle?
It is difficult to predict when a wine will be at its best. Do you enjoy a wine with the vibrancy of youth or the more mellow complexities of a fully mature wine? Is your preference for a red wine with predominant primary fruit
characters, or for a more mature expression, with nuances of coffee, cedar, tobacco and other secondary characters? It is very much a case of individual preference and will depend upon the style and vintage of the wine in question.
It is important to remember that smaller format bottles will mature more rapidly than standard bottles or magnums, as the ratio of air in the ullage space to the volume of wine is higher.
SERVING YOUR WINE
White wines are best served cool. However, if the wine is too cold you will find that aromas and flavours are suppressed. Aromatic white wines can be served chilled from the refrigerator, however fuller bodied whites may be more
enjoyable a few degrees warmer. Red wine is best served at around 18 to 20 degrees Celsius. In summer, it is sometimes necessary to cool the wine down a touch if the ambient temperature is quite warm. Red wines served too warm may
seem volatile and alcoholic and will not show at their best.
Opening your wine
An advantage with screw-cap closures is that you don’t have the bother of using a corkscrew and the bottles are easy to reseal. For bottles sealed under cork, there are many kinds of openers to choose from. However, a simple “waiters’ friend” corkscrew will do the job most of the time on younger wines.
At the Penfolds Re-corking Clinics, we often use the long barrelled standard table model Screwpull® corkscrew. This has a Teflon-coated pliable screw and a rigid frame which guides the screw into the centre of the cork and pulls it out
with relative ease. For older wines sealed under cork, Penfolds advocate using
the German Monopole® Ah-So two prong bottle opener. This unique device allows intact removal of old, crumbly, moist corks. It works by slipping the two prongs down either side of the cork rather than running a screw into the middle.
Wine enthusiasts have many different producers and types of quality wine glassware to choose from. Which brand, style and shape to purchase is a personal decision that will depend upon your wine preference, taste and budget. Most respected glass producers advocate that the shape and size of the wine glass has a direct impact on the perception of the aroma and flavour
of a wine. Many of these producers have created wine glasses to suit different grape varietals and wine styles. For general purpose, Penfolds recommends using a fine, large stemmed glass that allows you to swirl the wine without spillage. A good quality glass can be an object of beauty in itself, allowing
you to admire the colour of the wine while encouraging the bouquet to emerge.
The poor storage of glasses is a problem that is rarely written about. If wine glasses are not regularly used, or are stored in cardboard boxes, they can collect fine dust or attract ambient odours. Glasses stored in wooden or antique cabinets are particularly prone to this problem. If the glass is not washed before being used it may taint the wine. Dishwashers can also leave a film of detergent. If glasses are not thoroughly rinsed they can pick up odours very quickly. Always remove lipstick stains from glasses before washing them, as the wax can dissolve and coat the inside bowl of the glass. Penfolds
recommends that you wash and polish glasses prior to use unless you are sure of how the glasses are stored.
How to decant
The primary purpose of decanting is to separate the wine from sediment that develops in the bottle over time as a wine matures. However, even very young wines without sediment benefit from decanting as the process allows oxygen to come into contact with the wine. This oxygen contact “opens” the
wine up allowing it to show at its best. Penfolds recommend decanting all of our red wines before serving. Penfolds often uses the method of double-decanting, especially for large wine dinners. Many wine collectors will
double-decant to avoid confusing various different decanters as it is easy to identify the re-filled original bottles on the table during a meal.
It is advisable to transfer the bottle to a decanting cradle, or to stand the bottle for several hours prior to decanting. This will allow the sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle. In a well lit area, unscrew the cap or pull the cork and pour the wine carefully and steadily into a clean decanter or glass jug. You can use a funnel if you wish. Try to minimise the amount
of turbulence occurring in the bottle, as this will only disturb the sediment. Observe the wine passing through the neck and shoulder of the bottle, you may find using a candle or torch helpful. The wine should appear quite clear until you reach the point when sediment starts to trickle through. At this stage
To double-decant, simply rinse the original bottle out with bottled or filtered (non-chlorinated) water and dispose of all the residual sediment. Once clean, hold the bottle upside down until all the water has completely drained out. Using a clean funnel carefully refill it from the decanter. This double
aeration of the wine will also help the wine open up, however with very old wines it is advisable to trickle the wine very carefully and slowly down the sides of the decanter & bottle to minimise splashing & aeration.
You can decant white wine, but usually this is an issue of personal preference. Penfolds often decants Yattarna and Reserve Bin Chardonnay as we believe the wines benefit from the aeration.
For more information on Penfolds please visit www.penfolds.com.au
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