If your car boot's not chock full of shiny, tinkling wine bottles when you get back from regional Victoria, did you ever really go?

Pop into a vineyard and pick up something delicious to drink with tonight's meal. While you're out and about, grab a few bottles to take home or pick a drop with cellaring potential and save it for a special occasion. Birthday on the horizon? A bottle with a bit of history makes a great gift.

Victoria's wine regions are amazingly diverse. Micro-climates, soils, the breadth and age of grape varieties grown here – all add up to a fine mix of wine styles, and the perfect match for your foodie adventure. A rich heritage of wine making traditions underpin many a famous name or up-and-coming winery in regional Victoria.

Check out our tips on what to drink now, and what to save for later. Or ditch the rule book and have the best of both worlds: buy an older vintage or an 'NV' to drink right now.

Go with an empty esky and return with a little bit of regional Victoria.

Top tips

  • Open your bottle within 2 to 3 years. If you don't have a posh wine fridge or cellar, this is a good rule of thumb.
  • The year on the label is the 'vintage' date: the year the grapes were picked. 'NV' stands for 'non-vintage' and means grapes from a blend of harvest years went into the bottle.
  • Store your bottle somewhere cool and dark.
  • If you're 'cellaring' wine, or keeping it for a while, ideally store it between 12 and 15 degrees Celsius. If your wine's got a cork, lay it on its side and keep it somewhere humid. If it's a screwtop you can store it upright and forget about humidity.
  • Impatient? Ask at the cellar door about older or NV bottles that are perfect to open right now.

Some wines are best enjoyed within a year or so of the vintage date. They're made to be drunk while they're still young and bright. They're already at their best.

Pick up a great bottle of pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, grenache, or pinot noir blend rose, a lovely prosecco or non-vintage sparkling wine. The Yarra Valley, High Country, Mornington Peninsula, and Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula produce great examples of these wines.

Some wines get better with age.
A range of natural processes can meld and mellow fruit and barrel flavours into something even more beautiful than you started with.

Look out for riesling, semillon, chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and marsanne wines from cellar doors in the Yarra Valley, the High Country and Rutherglen, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula, The Grampians, and the famous Mornington Peninsula.

Cellaring times vary, but bottles of pinot noir can keep for 4 to 8 years, cabernet sauvignon can drink well for 8 years or more, riesling for 10 years or more and fortified or dessert wines can last 50 years or more.

Some wines are naturally talented all-rounders. They're great now and are still great a few years down the track. Taste, ask the friendly cellar door staff and discover what you enjoy.

Chardonnays come in many different styles and can be enjoyed young and light, or with a bit of age – darker, with more butterscotch flavours.

Pinot noir and shiraz can be delicious when young and fruity, but with age these can mellow, the tannins soften, and develop a beautiful purple, then earthy red hue.

Sangiovese is a lovely match for your pizza right now but can get even better with a few more years.