Since we produce our own wine, we thought it was best to write a post about the ideal storage of wine, it’s something that is overlooked on a daily basis but is extremely important in the development of the wine.
Whether it is white wine or red wine, at some point they will be stored for a year or so before consumption and some reds for as long as 10 -15 years to allow them to fully develop.
Polgoon has teamed up with a wine storage expert for this one, Elite Wine Refrigeration, who are one of the UK’s few wine storage specialist companies who distribute wine coolers, wine cabinets and cellar equipment across the UK and Ireland.
Callum from Elite Wine has come up with an article about the 5 key factors that can make or break a wine.
- Sustained Temperatures
The key factor to control when storing wine for long periods is the temperature. All wines are best kept at 12°C and this includes reds, whites and sparkling wines – this is because it is the optimum temperature to allow the wine to develop. The reactions that occur inside the bottle over a period of years can be hindered by temperatures that are too cold, for example serving temperatures for white wines. If the temperature is too warm, for example at the serving temperature of red wines – the reactions will happen too quickly and the ageing process will be somewhat rushed.
The temperature also needs to be somewhat constant, if the temperature is going up and down on a daily basis there will be very little time that the wine is actually at the correct temperature for ageing as due to the thermal mass of the wine the liquid takes a lot longer to change temperature than the air temperature.
- Avoid UV Light
In a traditional wine cellar, there is zero light from outside as they deep underground and are often lit with oil lamps or candles when someone needs to go down there. Wine prefers complete darkness to allow the ageing process to progress, it’s not the most critical point for storage but it should be noted.
UV light will effectively interfere with the ageing process and can quite visibly change the appearance of the wine. If you leave a bottle of red wine in a window for a year or two it will gradually fade and change colour into something that looks quite unappealing. This therefore affects how the wine tastes and smells as the natural reactions that occur inside the bottle have been interfered with and can lead to souring of the wine.
3) Moisture Regulation
Humidity is a very important factor when it comes to long term storage of wine, it doesn’t necessarily affect how the wine develops but can drastically affect the value. The cork is usually a natural material which means it can dry out, in very hot, dry countries there is a real risk of the cork drying out which is why they use wine coolers and cabinets to maintain the humidity.
If the cork was to dry out, depending on the angle the wine bottle is being stored at either the wine will begin to leak out of the bottle of their small gaps can be created around the sides of the cork which allows oxygen to enter the bottle and over a period of time the wine will oxidize and lose its value and taste and will basically be undrinkable.
The ideal humidity level for wine storage is between 55 and 85%, in most cases the relative humidity in a house will sit at around 65% which is absolutely ideal. If the moisture level was to go above the 85% mark then there is a risk of mould growth on the labels which will also affect the value of the wine – if you are storing wine for 10 years or more as part of an investment plan then you don’t want spoiled labels as the value will be next to nothing.
4) Minimize vibrations
It is very important to store wines in areas that have a very low footfall and left in areas that don’t experience excessive vibrations. In a traditional wine cellar, the bottles are only move once, maybe twice a year just to redistribute the solids inside the bottle to allow the ageing process to continue – they won’t experience any vibration at all.
Vibrations can disturb the ageing process by again interfering with the reactions that occur inside the bottle and it can actually lead to the wine separating out into layers of heavier and lighter compounds which means the ageing process will be completely hindered as the ageing process relies on the free movement of compounds inside the bottle.
If you don’t have access to a wine cellar then a wine fridge is a great option as it, they will be fitted with a vibration reduction system which basically means the compressor is mounted on rubber mountings to minimize any vibration – thus leaving your wines in peace to develop as they should.
5) Control Any Odours
Although the cork completely seals the wine bottle – there is still the chance that certain odours can penetrate the cork and cause a lasting effect on the wine – either by leaving a strange smell in the bottle or physically interfering with the chemical reactions that are occurring in the bottle.
A key odour producing organism is one that was highlighted above, mould. Mould is a big problem when it comes to odours as they produce a musky smell that is very hard to get rid of – in wine cabinets this is a key problem which is why most of the ageing cabinets are equipped with charcoal filters to help purify the air somewhat.
With the above in mind its quite easy to store your wines correctly and there are quite a few options on the market which will help you to do this, not everyone has access to a wine cellar of their own.
There are companies available who have purpose-built units for the storage of wine, they are fully managed and will maintain the temperature, humidity and any odours as above.
Another option is to invest in your own wine cooler, Elite Wine Refrigeration has a very big range and has units which are suitable for long term storage, short term storage or even just service temperatures. If you are going to be storing your wines for many years it is a very good idea to protect your wine properly and therefore protect your investment.