Everything you need to know about storing wine
For achieving peak quality in certain wines, it is important to store them for a long period in the ideal conditions. However, it is necessary to note that this does not apply to all wine types. People often mistakenly assume that they will improve their wine’s quality simply by storing it for a very long period. It does not work that way. Understanding the finer details will help you to understand and appreciate the science involved behind aging wine. It will also help you to realize the importance of storing wine, as well as how to do it right.
You could say that storing wine to age or mature is both an art and a science. The whole storing process involves heavy chemistry, and taking the smallest of missteps will make you regret the long wait. All the individual reactions of elements present in wine are predictable and thoroughly illustrate the importance of proper storage. Therefore, predicting exact results can be extremely tough at times. Even experienced wine connoisseurs who have a long history of wine storage are not always successful in their pursuits of making wines that taste perfect.
Moreover, the taste of wine is subjective. What you like could sometime be disliked altogether by friends of other people. It makes matters too complicated. Some prefer the primary fruit flavors of their wine while others don’t. They would rather have a more mature tasting drink.
Wine is made to be shared between good company.
Fortunately, there are tons of collectors who are not patient enough to see how their wine will develop. Admittedly yes, we are some of those cheeky suspects who opt to drink it before maturity instead. We end up sacrificing our precious bottles, in the spirit of good fun with friends. And rightly so! We are left to wonder…. How would that bottle have tasted once fully matured? Industry wine experts and passionate collectors seek out different wine cellars and explore vineyards all over the world to sample and build up a portfolio of wines. It is possible that one will venture into your cellar some day as well?
Sometimes we tend to be disappointed with a wine on first crack, despite painstakingly waiting for this moment since you purchased a particular bottle years ago. You also received expert advice on aging. The reason behind this could most likely be that the experts mostly sampled wine that was well taken care of. Moreover, every storage has different environments. Environment plays a huge role in determining a wine’s taste. The trip to the cellar from the winery also impacts a wine’s taste. The chemical reactions change immensely because of these trips. Certainly, some of these factors are out of our control, and even if we can, the efforts are very limited (not for lack of trying). All of these variables tell us how mysterious the allure of wine can be. Guarantees are very far and few, however, the chances of hitting the jackpot rise tremendously if you take the risk.
According to renowned collectors, experts, and science, storage is extremely important! Cutting corners is never a good idea as it ends up costing you. This is because it is virtually impossible to avoid the affects of bad storage. The differences can sometimes be very subtle. On the other hand, you will find glaring differences don’t want to be caught crying over spilt milk.
What Is Proper Storage?
Wine is a perishable beverage. Contrary to whiskey, the alcohol content in it is not sufficient for preserving it for an indefinite period. So over time, wine does go bad. Make sure that you properly maintain age-worthy wines, as not doing so could degrade it in less than 12 months. There is a best before date present on ready to drink wines. Storing these wines in undesired conditions will destroy it within hours. The type of wine plays a huge role in determining the actual requirements for storage. Fine wine normally lasts for more than five years.
An Average Wine Drinkers Storage Needs
The wine that is manufactured for consuming immediately does not benefit from storage. It starts to degrade immediately as soon as you cork it, it doesn’t matter if you cellar it properly. Sure, it will maintain them, but improving them is out of the question. According to a variety of studies, 14 hours is the average cellaring time for wine stored in LCBO shelves. After becoming aware of this fact, many producers started to manufacture ready to drink wine as it was cheaper to make as well.
Do not make the mistake of assuming that the quality of ready to drink wines is low. In fact, some are of very high quality. The simple fact is that these wine types just are not manufactured that way (to be age-worthy). Average wine drinkers do not mind specialized storage. You can store readily drinkable wines for a period between eight to twelve months without losing its quality significantly. Just make sure that you follow the minimum conditions mentioned below.
- Prevent direct sunlight from hitting the wine.
- The temperature of four and eighteen-degree centigrade doesn’t change too much.
- The fluctuation of more than five degrees Fahrenheit (two to three-degree centigrade) every day could be too much.
- Maintain humidity levels of more than fifty percent.
- Don’t move it around too much.
Storing your wine outside these limits is bound to bring you bad results within a couple of months. Having a basement will ensure that you meet the first two conditions easily. However, some people might find difficulty in meeting the humidity and Fahrenheit requirements without a wine cabinet or cellar. A basement just would not suffice in this case.
Temperature Stability for Wine Storage
Stable and constant temperature is necessary for storing wine. Five degrees Fahrenheit is said to be the acceptable average temperature annually. Wine storage is impossible without temperature stability and is considered to be the wine’s Holy Grail. It is a crucial storing requirement besides humidity. Plus it is very difficult to achieve. New storage enthusiasts especially find difficulty in achieving stable temperatures for their wine. Additionally, maintaining a constant level of temperature is of great importance. It may have more importance than the real average levels of temperature.
People who use home storage methods should not cellar their wines for more than one year. Having a maximum and minimum thermometer in these cases proves to be a good investment. Also, use a liquid probe to measure the temperature of the wine before serving it. The temperature of the liquid is what actually counts. The air temperature is not relevant. If your wines’ life is short-lived, even the most dramatic air temperature fluctuations will not affect its quality. The glass bottle’s thermal insulating properties are the reason behind it. However, if your storage area’s air pressure is at a singular level during the whole night, you might face some problems.
If you are wondering why fluctuating temperatures are important for your wine, here is the reason. The more the temperature fluctuates, the more oxygen or air enters the wine. Once the environment starts warming up, air and wine inside the bottle begin warming up as well. Because of this, chances of the cork coming out increases. However, this is not a cause for worry as most of the time; the cork just moves outward. The bottles’ contents begin to contract with the cooling of air. If there are too many fluctuations in temperature, the evaporating wine could be replaced with outside air. This causes ullage or low fill levels that are prevalent in oxidized flavors and older wines.
Highly reactive gas and oxygen levels are very dangerous for wine. Wine bottles that go through repetitive temperature cycling eventually spoil or lose freshness. To make sure that wine ages properly, the frequency and magnitude of temperature fluctuations should be minimized. Even low fluctuation levels like three degrees Fahrenheit can damage wines if they (fluctuations) occur regularly.
Generally, storing wines inside closets is never an ideal choice. According to extensive Northern Italian researches and surveys, wines stored in room temperatures age quadruple times faster.
55 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for storing wine. The humidity should be between 55 and 77 percent.
Reputable food scientists held a survey in which they collected four hundred Tuscan bottles. They placed two hundred of these bottles in a proper wine cellar. They stored the other half in a dark room that mimicked the temperature of home closets. They compared the chemical state and structure of these wines after two years passed.
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After testing both samples thoroughly, they concluded that storing wine in bedrooms is a big no-no. They claimed that anyone who had any respect for wine would never make closet wine. They lose their color and antioxidants very quickly in comparison to cellar wines. Plus the chemical reactions found in the closet wines indicated that they potentially had wine faults (having dangerous chemical elements that are harmful to our health).
Although these researchers wasted two hundred wine bottles for driving their point home, they have given us scientific reasoning that explains why we should store our wines in cellars instead of rooms or closets.
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Darkness Is Necessary for Wine Storage
Exposing your wine to excess lights is never a wise idea. The reason behind this is that light breaks down the flavor creating complex molecules present inside wines. These molecules ensure that the wine ages properly and improve its taste over time. Although this will not be a big problem for most people seeing as most wines are stored inside glass bottles. But there are some conditions in which people’s cellars or storage areas have excess lighting.