In these days of inner city apartment dwelling, owning a dusty, cobwebbed wine cave or cellar is about as likely as having your own Downton Abbey butler. A climate controlled wine fridge is the ideal solution for cellaring Pinot, but even an insulated cupboard will do. The main thing to avoid is cellar shock – sharp, rapid variations in cellaring conditions.
It is recommended that when cellaring Pinot, particularly Australian Pinots (and many French Burgundies) you only allow a window of 8 to 10 years before drinking – unlike grunty Barossa Shiraz. Unless it’s a fabulously expensive DRC or La Tâche, drink Pinot when it’s young, succulent and fresh.
Don’t store your wine in the back of a car…or a garage. Vibrations disturb and agitate sediment…and take your mind off drinking.
The ideal humidity range for Pinot Noir is 55 to 75 percent. Too dry and your corks will shrink and the wine will oxidise (screwcaps solve this): too humid and you’ll have mouldy corks. The message: laundries don’t make great cellars.
Take your temperature
The optimum storage temperature for cellaring Pinot is 12°C (55°F) but the most important thing is to make sure it remains constant – wild swings from searing heat to freezing cold will destroy your Pinot collection quicker than an alcoholic cellar thief. Pinot Noir should be served at a temperature of 17 °C (63 °F) – cool to the touch but not cold.
In the dark
Pinot Noir is stored in black or brown glass bottles to protect it – not just for looks. But just in case keep your precious Pinot away from ultra-violet and fluoro lights and perhaps use a candle for atmospheric, late night cellar searches.
On your side
If your Pinot Noir is sealed with a piece of bark (aka cork) then lay it on its side to keep the seal tight and prevent oxidation. Screwcaps don’t need the same loving attention…but they still look important lined up on a musty, dusty cellar shelf.