It's the difference between being a careful connoisseur or becoming a vinegar farmer. If you're unsure or think you are storing your wine incorrectly, here are a few handy tips to keep you ahead.
 
First off, heat is your enemy.  It's the heat, especially drastic changes in temperature, that prematurely age wine. Direct sunlight, the heat from the back of your fridge or oven, even having your kettle boiling under the kitchen cupboard in which you keep your wine, are all ways we have personally lost a favoured bottle so they're best to be avoided. Correct guidelines indicate that wine should be stored at a constant 13 degrees Celsius, but even 15 or 16 degrees is acceptable. Heat breaks down proteins in the wines which means a loss of structure and tannins for red wine and bottle oxidisation for white.
 
Now seeing as most folks can't afford a wine cellar, best practice is usually to get a bar fridge or make space in a cupboard in the coolest part of your house and keep your bottles in the dark at a constant temperature (whatever that may be).
 
The most important question to ask yourself is; does this specific wine need to be aged in the first place? Our modern, instant gratification culture has affected wine production methods in such a way that there is far less need to store wine these days. It leaves the cellar only when it's ready and can be whisked halfway around the world in a day, so most wine you'll find on the shelf is absolutely ready to drink and requires no ageing at all.
 
If you're still unsure, find out whether the bottle in question is a warm or a cool climate wine. Most of warm climate wines aren't meant to be kept in the bottle longer than it takes to open it, especially the white wines. Some warm climate reds will develop in the bottle, but usually not for longer than 18-24 months before they are ready.
 
Cool climate wines are another matter entirely, they love a bit of time in the bottle, even the unwooded white wines. If you're really looking to honour the grape, some cool climate white wines require at least 18 months in the bottle just to get over bottle-shock. Cool climate wines grow, ferment and mature slower, so it's natural that they take their time coming into their own. But when they do, they reveal a symphony of flavour that's almost impossible to replicate in warm climates.
 
A general rule of thumb is that the more wood the wine has been exposed to before bottling, the more maturation potential it has in the bottle. But seeing as there are hundreds of thousands of wines out there, this advice can’t be true for every single one of them. The best advice we've ever been given when it comes to ageing is: Ask! Nobody knows more about the ageing potential of a particular wine than the person who made it. When you buy a delicious wine, make sure to ask how long and how carefully you should keep it.
 
Now if you're looking for delicious wines to buy and knowledgeable people to talk to about them look no further than WINEderland at the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show