You just bought an expensive bottle of wine and suddenly found out that you may not be storing it the right away. You may have also heard of the benefits that wines carry after long-term storage and want to test it out but don’t know how to go about it. If this is you, then read on to find out more about the ins and outs of wine storage.
First of all, you need to know that it is only an incredibly small percentage of excellent wines on the market today that require long-term ageing. The majority of the wines out there should be enjoyed now or within a few years of storage, e.g. up to 5 years, as many will have been stored for a number of years by the winemaker before released onto the market.
However, if you are buying wine with the intention of allowing it to develop for many years to come, or you just want to ensure that the bottle you're buying now won't spoil by Christmas, then could consider investing in professional-grade wine storage – whether that is a luxury wine cooler from the likes of Elite Wine Refrigeration or , if you're lucky enough to have space, a custom built wine cellar from someone like Spiral Cellars (www.spiralcellars.co.uk)
In any case, unless you buy your bottles with a view to drinking them within the next week or so, here are Callum's key things to consider when it comes to wine storage:
Humidity and Temperature
Most of the time, temperature is shockingly overlooked when it comes to the storage of wine to maturity. But temperature plays a significant role in how quickly – or slowly – a bottle of wine matures.
The Wine Society recommends that you should keep your wines between 10-14°C, i.e., warmer temperatures will encourage development whereas cooler temperatures will slow the process, the optimum for most wines is 12°C.
Humidity does not ordinarily affect the quality of the wine, but it can cause significant issues with the cork. Since most corks are a natural substance meaning they are living, the humidity can bring about degradation of the cork, in turn, having an unpleasant impact on the quality of your wine. Too little humidity and the cork may dry out, allowing the wine to seep out as it is no longer as tighter fit, it will also allow oxygen to seep in which will sour the wine.
Too much humidity can also wreak havoc on wooden boxes and the wine bottle labels (e.g. in a steamy kitchen), and worse mould can build up on the cork or and will damage the prestigious labels of your wine bottles.
The position of the wine bottle
There are generally two practical ways of orientating bottles of wine:
• On their side
Storing wine in racks makes a lot of sense, but this needs to be done in any of the following ways:
1. If your bottle of wine comes with a synthetic cork or a screw cap, you can stow it upright or on their side
2. For corked bottles of wine, you must store them on their sides
3. Bottles of Champagne – as well as other sparkling wine can be stored for incredibly short periods – i.e., about a month in upright positions. This should only be done when they are going to be consumed.
The ideal way to store bottles of wine is on its side as it allows you to stack the bottles which gives you much more capacity in your wine cooler or wine cellar. This is also the best way as it means the cork will not dry up from the inside as the liquid will keep it moist. (Note from Purple Teeth: remember if you're going to serve a lovely bottle of red you've lovingly stored, to put it upright for several hours before pouring/decanting to ensure you allow any sediment to settle).
Take a look around online, and you will find beautiful and functional racks that will be perfect for you. There are several wall-mounted varieties, 15-bottle racks, contemporary globe drinks cabinets, etc. to choose from.
When wines are stored for ten to twenty years in commercial wine cellars in countries like France, Spain and Italy, they very rarely see any movement and if they do it is just to simply turn the bottle to ensure the sediment is collecting in the bottom of the bottle as it should.
Gentle or even subtle, unwarranted vibrations can accelerate the many reactions that occur in a stored bottle of wine. These reactions may cause the wine to mature too quickly which will inevitably mean the wine won't taste as good as it should. If you have stored a bottle of wine for 5-10 years you want the full flavour.
Keep the lighting levels low, wine coolers mostly feature solid doors however they are more and more becoming must have household appliances and this type of wine cooler tend to have a glass door. This will need to be fully UV treated to ensure no UV rays can travel through the glass. It has been proven that UV rays can affect the taste of wines if exposed to them for too long. Top tip: avoid wine merchants who display fine wines upright and in a hot window. Red wines will generally change colour to lighter shades which could change the taste, and your enjoyment of the wine.
Remember to have a look at the site for elitefridges.co.uk if you’re looking for a new or a first wine fridge. You'll qualify for Free Shipping if you use the code SHIPPING35.
And if you need help deciding what to put in it, I’m here!