Vino File: Savor it later

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Cellaring wine is a hobby that looks deceptively easy. The hardest part about storing a bottle in your basement for a few years is having the patience to wait to drink it, right? Wrong.

Although an elaborate setup isn't required, the wine must be kept at a cool, constant temperature in a dark space. If it has a cork closure, it should be stored on its side to prevent air from oxidizing the wine.

A true enthusiast will buy a case of wine and pull a bottle every year or so to notice its changing profile. It's not true that the longer a bottle is aged, the better - once it hits its peak, a wine can just as steadily devolve.

For the patient, the result is a wine whose sharp tannins, acidity or sweetness have been muted and whose flavors and smell have morphed.

If you're more into instant gratification, shops like The Twisted Vine in Grandview keep a variety of aged wines in stock, several of which are highlighted below. Alternately, try decanting a young wine for a few hours to get an idea of the change that could come if it were aged, owner Jonna Brandon said.

If you'd rather try a hand at it yourself, ask the shop owner which bottles would be good to keep. Not everything gets better with time.

Christoffel riesling kabinett (2003)

Region: Mosel, Germany

Cost: $23

Flavors: Less acidity and sugar than its younger counterparts, with a richer mouthfeel

Pairs well with: German fare, like pork dishes, or Asian food

Jonna Brandon's advice: "The '03 is drinking great right now, but you can also get some years of cellaring out of it as well."

Cavallotto Barolo Riserva (2001)

Region: Barolo, Italy

Cost: $90

Flavors: Aged fruit essences that aren't as tannic and fresh-fruity as a young Barolo

Pairs well with: Veal, quail, chicken livers, braised red meats

Jonna Brandon's advice: "Italian wines really benefit from cellaring because they can be very tannic and a little bitter. Cellaring makes them more approachable and better with food."

Warre's Vintage Porto (2000)

Region: Porto, Portugal

Cost: $45

Flavors: A dessert wine that's not as heavy on the palate as a younger port

Pairs well with: Bittersweet chocolate cake, blue cheese and walnuts

Jonna Brandon's advice: "Ports are a fortified wine, but they're still going to age the same way reds age - backing away from the fresh fruit flavor, and the wine's going to take on a browner color."