Most wine in New Zealand is consumed almost immediately on purchase, which means that people are mostly missing out: the way wine changes with age is one of the things that makes it so interesting, and some older wines are simply remarkable.
Hawke's Bay wines are notably age-worthy. Our wines are made to age, and sealed with natural cork, as we think this is the best way to ensure they age in the traditional way. Cellaring wines is extremely worthwhile; to see the real benefit it does need to be done properly, as incorrect conditions will change the way a wine ages.
Light: A wine should not be exposed to light for extended periods: darker glass bottles will slow the damage, but if wine is being stored long term it should be in the dark.
Orientation: Natural corks must remain moist to maintain a good seal. This means that if bottles are to be aged, they must be stored with wine in contact with the cork. The most straightforward is on their sides as per most wine racks - although there are suggestions that a slight angle where the cork is only partially in contact with wine is the ideal.
Humidity: A relative humidity of around 75% is considered ideal in the cellar, but the important factor is it not being so dry that the outer end of the cork dries out and shrinks, allowing too much oxygen in - realistically this is unlikely to be a big problem in New Zealand - but a wee bowl of water placed in the cellaring area can help the cause. Higher humidity may be a superficial problem in that it can damage labels, but the wine will be fine.
Temperature: Absolute temperature is important, as the speed of many of the chemical processes taking place during the aging of wine is temperature dependent. We recommend 10 - 12 C. Anything over 25C for an extended period will damage your wine, and if you go below -4C then freezing is possible. Change in temperature can be even more important, as the expansion and contraction of wine with temperature changes can cause leakage of wine through the cork, and/or increased oxygen intake.
If this all sounds a bit technical and difficult, it's not really - somewhere cool, dark and not too dry where the temperature doesn't change much will be fine - and cracking a bottle every so often to make sure all is well is not the worst job in the world.