Hince on Wine: Raid the cellar! 2



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There’s a common and often costly trap we wine collectors fall into – that’s saving or putting down that special wine for that “special occasion”. The theory goes like this – the grander or more celebratory the event the better the wine. Trouble is if your special bottle is out of sight, it’s invariably out of mind and the occasion comes and goes but the bottle continues its slumber. Or, sadly that special occasion fails to eventuate – same result!

Hands up, be honest, it’s probably happened to you, me too.

Now your cellar may consist of a few motley looking bottles in a cupboard, under the stairs or house or maybe tucked away in the garage. No matter, it’s yours and hopefully it’s special. If you are really into wine chances are you are the very proud owner of one of those fancy wine storage cabinets (as distinct from fridges) replete with a glass door and resplendent with space age technology guaranteed to minimise vibration and keep your bubbly, whites and reds at their respective ambient temperatures come hail, rain or shine. These are fast becoming the cellar of today – and the future – as more of us prefer to consume more of the “drink now” wines.

The image of someone rummaging around in some cavernous, cobwebbed underground cellar full of Grange, Bin 707, Henschke Hill of Grace or the odd Krug or vintage Dom Pérignon or two is about as romantic as the wintery-themed Christmas cards we receive annually with snow clad Santas trying to squeeze down long dormant chimneys!

That’s not to say such images are a thing of the past, there are some fabulous subterranean cellars and (thanks to air conditioning) above ground wine storage facilities about. These are usually the domain of the serious wine collector who regularly assesses the condition of his or her wine and whose inventory is computer-controlled.

But for most of us, our cellar consists of a desultory few dozen “odds and sods” bottles that nevertheless are worth keeping. Or are they? No matter your cellar’s size or composition chances are that your cherished cabernet, special shiraz or once pristine pinot will have karked it, turned sour with old age or is well past its best drink-by date.


Raid the Cellar

And because you have forgotten to regularly monitor its progress (which the seriously serious wine collectors do at least every six months) bang goes your enjoyment, not to overlook your sense of anticipation. Worse still, if you have invested in a dozen or half a dozen top quality, expensive bespoke wine, your money and time will have been wasted. And believe me, that’s very annoying.

Many times it’s happened to me, less so these days as my cellar is smaller than it used to be. But I bet you that if I looked hard enough among the bottles randomly stacked bottle on bottle (not racked) I would find the bottom inaccessible layer dotted with weeping corks and long ullaged bottles – too depressing!

We wine scribes often forget to heed the advice we give others, but are often loathe to admit it. Time for me to fess up!

So that’s why I’m urging you to institute a regular raid your cellar moment, whether it be weekly, fortnightly or monthly, whatever best suits you. I’m thinking of gazetting an official, annual ‘Raid Your Cellar Day’ whereby we all retrieve that long forgotten red or bubbly and celebrate life as we see fit, be it with a surreptitious sip or two alone, or better still over dinner with friends.

Go on, don’t wait for ‘Raid Your Cellar Day’ – do it now, lift the trapdoor, search under the bed, excavate the garage or raid that vinous bolthole. Give yourself permission to discover some hidden liquid treasures, carefully remove the cork or unscrew the Stelvin cap, start decanting, pour yourself a glass and start swirling, sniffing, sipping and savouring that long-slumbering, sublime shiraz, cosseted cabernet or special sparkling.

Make every day and every bottle a special occasion, go wild and invite your friends to a bring-a-bottle-from-your-cellar dinner and blind taste each another’s special bottles – What a fun way to try some old, unusual or rare wines that you would otherwise never get to taste. Maybe try playing the popular, addictive Len Evans Options game.

I’ve done it and in the process enjoyed myself immensely. So come on, give it a go and set up your own, informal ‘Raid Your Cellar Day’ and chances are, like me, you will discover wines you thought you never had and share good times with good friends – and that’s what wine is all about!

Pillage and plunder to your heart’s content – here’s to ‘Raid Your Cellar Day!’

Happy foraging and cheers!


Tell us below, do you have a wine cellar? How many wines do you have and what is your most delicious tipple? 


Here are some of our favourite wines on sale this week!

2013 Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $28.49 in any six

2012 Eddystone Point Pinot Noir – $25.65 in any six

2013 Craggy Range Avery Sauvignon Blanc – $26.90 in any six



Michael Hince

Michael Hince is an independent wine writer and broadcaster. Known as the velvety voice of vino, he hosts Heard it Through the Grapevine a weekly radio program on 1179 AM Vision Australia Radio Melbourne which goes to air nationally to over 1.5 million listeners via the Community Radio Network. He contributes to a range of publications including Alquimie, The Melbourne and Adelaide Review; Wine Business Magazine and Winestate magazine as well as blogging on his site. In another life he was also a restaurant and wine reviewer and contributor to the Age, The Age Good Food Guide, the Weekly Times, Business Review Weekly and the Herald Sun. He has edited a number of wine trade magazines, including the Wine and Spirit Review, and was a former editor of The Epicurean magazine, the first Australian magazine devoted entirely to food and wine and had a considerable influence on later food and wine writing. It was published from May 1966 to 1993 and was noted for its wonderfully quirky front covers. He is passionate about wine and food and brings a whimsical warmth, engaging style and wealth of wine knowledge to Starts at Sixty. www.hinceonwine.com.au

  1. My daughters are 40 and 48 And when the eldest one was about 10 a wine salesman came knocking on the door ( in Alice Springs). My husband and I were talked into a bottle fir each of them to keep until they were 21. We opened the first one when the eldest was 21. It was foul. Yuk something had not lasted. We waited 8 more years for the second 21st and that one was even more foul and yuk. Maybe we could have done with some good advice don’t you think

    1 REPLY
    • Hello Carole
      Most wine is consumed with 48 hours of purchase, however there are some wines, mostly reds, often with an alcohol of 13.5% plus that are suitable for cellaring, also in a hot climate like Alice Springs you are going to need a good cellar. Vintage ports also last a long time.

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