Monday, 27 June 2016

Storing Good wines afloat.

Back in our BS (Before Sailing) days when we lived in a house, worked and actually made money instead of just spend it, we collected some very nice Australian wines over the years. We even had a very suitable cool, dark place to cellar them under the house. When we made our plans to sail off into the sunset we began drinking our way through our cellar of ‘Good’ wines rather than taking the option of trying to keep it.
It was a tough job we’ll admit but someone had to do it. By the time we headed off through Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, what was left of our much diminished collection was put into storage at our daughter’s house. When we made a brief visit back to Australia before heading over to sail the Mediterranean, the stocks were further depleted. Hic!

A couple of years of Med sailing later we returned home to buy the boat we plan to sail for the rest of our lives. By the time we found the right boat and actually moved onto Our Dreamtime, our extensive wine collection had shrunk to only a handful of our ‘Very, Very Good’ wines. These then came on board with us and most were enjoyed along the way during our five month shakedown cruise through the Great Barrier Reef islands last year. It was only our two oldest and very best wines that survived the cruise. The vintage of these two bottles were 1963 and 1983 respectively.
On suitable occasions in the right anchorages the real glasses and 'good' wine have come out aboard Our Dreamtime.

Even in our house, when we cellared our very best wines we stored them in individual polystyrene foam post packs we had bought from the post office. These insulate the wine very well protecting them from exposure to light and limiting temperature change in Queensland’s humid, sub-tropical climate. They always worked well for us on land, so that’s the way we have stowed our best wines on board the boat.
Polystyrene foam post packs bought from the post office have been our 'very good' wines protective cocoon  for years.

Whenever we told people that we had quality wines of this age on board most shuddered and said we were mad, that it was not possible for top quality wine to survive on 42 foot yacht without spoiling. Well these bottles have been on board with us for two years now including our little jaunt up to the Whitsunday Islands and back.

Before departing on our current voyage, we enjoyed an awesome afternoon of excellent food, fine wine and great company at the home of a good friend, Neil Harding, from our before sailing days in business. To celebrate the catch up we finally cracked the bottle of 1963 Penfolds Kalimna Cabernet we'd been lovingly closeting since about 1998. It was the second last bottle of ‘Very, Very Good’ wine we had left from those days.

Neil supervising as Rob decants our 53 year old bottle of Penfolds
Karen and Neil preparing to enjoy our second last surviving 'very, very good' bottle of wine from our before sailing days.

Before we opened it Rob suggested it was an "S or S" bottle in that, at the grand old age of 53 years old, it would either be Sublime or Shit. We are delighted to report that even after its moves from house to house and then two years afloat, the $1.10 foam post pack had done its job. The wine was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!.

We had never tasted fifty year old wine before so it was a real experience and an eye opener as to how unbelievably good a truly well aged wine can become. We were also in awe of how skilled the Penfolds winemakers who produced this gem were. We believe this particular vintage won the very prestigious 1964 Jimmy Watson Trophy which was in fact Penfolds’ very first JW. We can assure the judges that it has matured in the bottle very nicely since then. Pity we only had one of them.

YES, very good wine can survive on a yacht, at least for a while, if it is well stowed and protected. We don’t begin to pretend it is as good for the wine as laying still on the shelf of a nice cool cellar, but you can take a special bottle or two with you when you sail away if you’re so inclined.

NO, we’re not telling you exactly what our last remaining ‘Very, Very Good’ bottle is other than to say it is another Penfolds. When will we drink it?  Karen’s upcoming 25+25 birthday celebration at Airlie Beach is a likely candidate for that honour.  In the meantime its back to our usual cheap Aussie reds we get from the discount liquor barn. Hic!
Essential provisions of a slightly cheaper variety are now the mainstay of Our Dreamtime's stocks

They simply get wrapped in old socks or cut-off baby's romper suits to prevent rattling where they're stowed under the soles.
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  1. Our modest home brew also does well onboard. We lash the fermenter to the mast (below deck) and it bubbles away quite happily - even at sea. It seems that the yeast enjoys the aggitation...

    1. Hi Hans, we were just talking about this to another cruiser at sundowners two nights ago. He brews on board and says he has not problem with the movement of the boat at all. Glad your beer is going well too. Cheers!

  2. I love the fact that not only do you have Very, Very Good food on board, you also have Very, Very Good wine. Karen's 25+25 bday sounds like a perfect occasion to enjoy that last bottle :-)

    1. Thanks Ellen. We've had this one so long it will be like saying goodbye to an old friend as well as celebrating a major birthday. Cheers!


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