Its always a thrill to find a new wine gem, almost immediately your mind starts planning on the best occasion and recipe to serve it with. There are other bottles you would like to save for much, much longer, like a case you bought in a good vintage to taste years later. In comes the inevitable fuss over where to keep them. Thankfully, stores like Wine Locker make this easy with a range of storage options. In this article we look at why the right wine storage spot is crucial and what exactly happens in the bottle.
When thinking of wine storage options, the underlying factor is: you want your wine to oxidise as slowly as possible. Isn't Oxygen the sworn enemy of wine? Well, yes..but only in high amounts. Oxygen tend to turn wine into vinegar. However, winemakers introduce Oxygen in little doses throughout the winemaking process. Slight oxidation in the oak barrels will add character notes to the wine. Bottle ageing; where the cork slowly lets in small amounts of Oxygen into the wine will eventually help develop the wine. Which IS what you want to do when cellaring wines.
Slowly Oxidized red wines turn color from vibrant deep reds into a dapper brick red color, white wines add on a luxurious golden tone. Tertiary notes like Caramel are added on to the floral or fruity primary notes in due time as the wine slowly progresses in age.
3 things to consider when storing wine
Normal fridges normally don't have this in consideration because refrigeration also included dehumidifying. They are made to keep things fresh, not to maintain wine corks. Humidity is necessary to keep the cork nice and moist. When corks dry out they let air in into the little ullage (the pace between wine and the enclosure) space. A little trick often used to add humidity to otherwise dry spaces is to place a bowl of water on the floor in your cellaring room.
- Constant Temperature.
You are not Morgan Freeman (God), you cannot control the weather and that's fine. However, you can find a spot that stays nice and cool all year round, or a reliable wine fridge that will not only keep constant temperatures but will do so according to the wine. The sweet spot temperature seems to be 51.8°F (11°c) or anywhere from 50°-59°F( 10°-15°c). Storing wine in temperatures above that will lead to a wine with cooked flavors. These wines are often known as Maderized wine, a nod to the fortified wine of the same name that is intentionally exposed to heat.
Do note these are different from serving temperatures (White wine 51.8°F, Red 59°F ) these are meant to be just cool or warm enough to allow the wine to show itself off.
Or any warming light for that matter. UV rays are the devil! They run the risk of developing faults. This risk is somewhat mitigated by using stained wine bottles. Light-strike mostly affects delicate white wines and Champagne causing them to have a wet cardboard aroma. Red wines can take light slightly longer because of the compounds that form tannin absorbing the light.
While all these remain constant, be sure to angle the bottles in such a way that the wine touches and constantly wets the cork. Orientation like this will keep the cork molecules taught and air resistant. However, the opposite is true for Champagne and Sparkling wines as they curiously tend to age better upright.
The assumption in this article is that the wines are enclosed with corks. This isn't the norm any more. More and more winemakers and wineries are adopting new (alternative) closures for their wines ranging from plastic corks, screw caps, synthetic corks to wax. Each material has its own function and can be used to keep wine for varying lengths of time. Though some of these corks and screw-caps claim to let air in, it would be better to stick to the basics; constant temperature, humidity and little light.