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Your Questions


I have been given a rather good bottle of 2011 Margaret River cab sav that a well-known wine critic recommends should be cellared for 30 years minimum before drinking. What are the guidelines for drinking if you don’t think you’ll last as long as the bottle you’re cellaring?

Susan Wright, Fremantle, WA

Cellaring guidelines are just that, a recommendation when the wine may be at its prime. I typically take such advice with a pinch of salt. There are many variables in play – in particular, how the wine is stored. The warmer the cellar, the quicker the rate of maturation.

I like the maxim: “Don’t wait to open the bottle on a special occasion; make the occasion special by opening the bottle”. I think you should drink the bottle whenever you feel like doing so – especially if you’re worried you won’t last as long as the recommendation!


What is the advantage of sealing wines with wax capsules, such as those on some Chablis bottles? Do they prevent any air whatsoever getting to the wine?

Shane Walker, Gold Coast, Qld

I asked Novum Wines owner Rachel Jackson-Hoare why they seal bottles with wax. “We make small-batch, hand-crafted wines and dip the bottles in wax as we think it is visually appealing, reinforces our ‘traditional’ identity and importantly, has proved to be an effective seal.” Rachel’s opinion is supported by winemakers such as Burgundy’s Olivier Lamy, who has described wax as a tool against premature oxidation. However consumer opinion is divided; some love the look whilst others find wax messy and difficult to remove.  


I’ve noticed a number of brands, especially in the US,
promoting ‘clean’ wine. What does this term actually mean?

Liv Caspian, Canberra, ACT

I honestly have no idea. I did some online research and was amazed by the twaddle being peddled by ‘clean’ wine companies, most of which seemed to imply that conventional wine is full of synthetic additives and chemicals. Playing on consumer fears that most wine contains pesticides, added colouring and sugar is disingenuous; wine production is highly regulated. Wine is an agricultural product and vineyards can be susceptible to fungal infections such as botrytis meaning spraying is inevitable, or making a wine at a certain pricepoint may force winemakers to use wooden staves and not barrels to impart oak character. But to imply that modern winemaking is creating Frankenstein wines and clean wines are our saviour, is wrong. Worryingly, most of these clean producers are vague when it comes to mentioning the alcohol content of their products, surely the most unhealthy part of any wine, in any of their publicity.  

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