For those that enjoy a good bottle of wine, drinking a glass of your favourite wine can be a lovely experience. However, when it comes to storing and cellaring wine for years, you may be wondering what it takes to get started? What makes a wine a good option for cellaring? Well, I thought it would be best to seek out the local expert. As such, I headed to Project 49 to talk to Rocco Esposito whose wine expertise is second to none.
Rocco was born and bread in Bari, Italy and has always worked in the hospitality industry. When I asked him about his entry into the wine scene he vividly remembers working at an Italian restaurant as a 17 year old. He had the job as a foot runner however, he was stopped by a diner wanting a particular bottle of wine. Usually this wouldn’t be the job of a foot runner and back then Rocco’s knowledge of wine was limited. He placed his thumb on the wine list menu right next to the diners selection, as he couldn't trust himself to remember the name of it. He then raced down to the cellar to show his more experienced colleague the selected name. Rocco watched as the wine was taken from the shelf, it was an aged wine from 1971. As it was expertly decanted, Rocco recalls the aroma just overwhelming his senses and from that moment, he fell in love with wine.
Since then, Rocco now lives in Australia and has a prestigious working history behind him including sommelier at Vue De Monde in Melbourne. He recalls being enamoured to learn more about Australian wine when he first moved here and dedicated himself to really understanding the complexities of the industry.
Nowadays you can find Rocco with his wife Lisa working at their own country cafe deli and wine bar. Rocco loves the idea of cellaring wine and happily gives the following four great tips about collecting, drinking and storing your wine.
1. Create A Memory
There is no hard and fast rule about which wines you should cellar, as there are so many on the market. Plus, it may be really difficult to decide which wine of the moment would improve with age so the best way to choose a wine for cellaring, is by selecting something you’re drinking now. Are you enjoying it and does it anchor a memory for you? Rocco’s advise, “Perhaps grab some extra bottles and cellar them, and when it comes time to drinking them you'll be transported back to that time and place you first drank it and - it will give you wonderful enjoyment.”
2. Storage is Key
Wine should be stored in a stable and cool environment. However, it also requires some humidity as a dry environment will allow air to seep into the cork and spoil the wine. You may choose to display your wine in a rack, a cupboard or as your collection grows - dedicate a special place to show off your growing cellar. In the days before refrigeration, the cellar was usually underground many houses and was the perfect place for storing all sorts of pantry items. These days, small wine fridges allow you the option to store wine at a cool, consistent temperature eliminating the environments variables.
3. Wine Is An Experience
Open the bottle and reflect on the flavour of that first glass, then wait a while and during the subsequent glasses note if the aroma’s and taste changes. Are these good changes or not? A wine should be a pleasant experience all the way through. For aged wine, Rocco recommends allowing it to breath or be decanted before enjoying.
“Pour carefully so as not to disturb the sediment and leave it for a few hours. However, if you are opening a burgundy or a very aged wine do not decant it and only let it breath for around 20 minutes. Very old wine will rapidly loose it’s flavour so best enjoyed sooner,” notes Rocco.
4. Glassware Matters
Rocco is a brand representative for Plumm glassware and he is very passionate about serving wine in the correct glassware. There is a glass for every wine and there really is more enjoyment is drinking a great wine in a great glass. Rocco uses the Plumm universal wine glasses in his cafe as they are ideal for both red and white wine.
We hope that Rocco’s tips have helped you on your way to begin your very own wine collection. With adding a few essentials such as glasses, a decanter and a storage option - you will not be far away from watching those bottles accumulate over time.
If you are ever in Beechworth, be sure to pop in and say hi to Rocco and Lisa at Project 49 Cafe located in Ford Street Beechworth or head to www.project49.com.au to find out more about Rocco’s own Chardonnay.