Have you ever wondered how best to store your wine at home? The reality is you don't need a grand cellar with vaulted ceilings (although who wouldn't want one?) but if you're serious about your wine and want it properly kept, you need to find somewhere better than under the stairs! We've joined up with Elite Wine Refrigeration for this edition of our blog, and their guide to wine storage is a great starting point for anyone considering how best to store their bottles!
Investing in proper wine storage
Always ensure your investment is correctly stored – keeping wines in your household refrigerator is fine for up to a couple months, though this won't work so well long-term. Correctly managed wine storage is the perfect investment to make once you begin to build yourself a collection.
You can store your wine bottles in lots of different ways now for example; wine racks, wine cabinets and even picture frames, however if you are wanting to store your wine for long periods of time and in a manor that will increase the value and ensure your wine is ageing correctly there are only a few options. The most common route is to store your wine with companies who manage their own temperature and humidity controlled warehouses. Another option which is slightly more cost effective and gives you 24-hour access to your wine is a wine fridge – specifically designed for the storage of wine so they manage the points raised below – just like a traditional wine cellar.
Here we will look in detail as to the key points which are necessary to ensure you store your wine in the most correct manner.
Storing at the correct temperature
When storing wines in a traditional underground wine cellar, the temperature inside is relatively constant and usually around 12°C throughout the year. This is somewhat thanks to the fact the walls insulate the cellar throughout the winter and have the ability to keep the wines cool during the summer.
On average, the rate of chemical reactions in wine doubles with each 18 °F (10 °C) increase in temperature. Most experts advise that wines should be kept at constant temperatures between 10 and 15 °C, no matter what kind of wine you may be storing.
For example, storing a red wine at around 16-20°C will speed up the process to which you wine ages, also stunting its development. The warmer temperatures make the reactions happen much quicker and this can sour the taste and palate of the wine. With white and sparkling wines, storing these types of wine at the lower serving temperatures can stunt any development as the temperature is simply too cold for the reactions to occur.
The risk of excess UV light
Ideally, wine should be stored in a dark, cool environment to rid the risk of it getting damaged. Light is a one of the biggest contributors to damaging wine. Although the glass bottle protects the wine from any damage, excess UV light does pose a number of other risks to the wine overall.
Very often where you may see a bottle of wine on display in the window of a wine merchants or restaurant, this is actually really bad for the bottle of wine as this can lead to the wine losing its red colour.
It is also worth noting that excessive amounts of UV light can also have an adverse effect on the taste and palate of the wine. Prolonged and extensive periods of exposure to light will interfere with the natural reactions that are occurring inside the bottle. UV light also means warmer temperatures, raising the internal temperature of the bottle and this will speed up the rate to which the bottle ages.
Storing your wines at the correct humidity
Humidity simply cannot be ignored it comes to storing your wine. This very factor can cause unnecessary oxidation of wine and can actually be quite easily managed; very often people overlook this when it comes to the storage of their wine.
Within a traditional wine cellar, underground the humidity levels are usually around 65-85% and though overall this has no effect on the wine itself, this needs to be correctly and properly managed to make sure your wine is not damaged.
If the air around which you store your wine is too dry, the cork in the bottle will quite likely dry out. A cork is a natural substance and can dry out over time so this too is not to be overlooked. If this happens the tight seal that the cork creates will be lost, allowing air to be drawn into the bottle and can make the wine go off. A dry cork can also lead to the cork compressing which can cause the wine to leak; a great waste of what could have been a very valuable bottle.
Likewise, if wines storage humidity is too high and you may have kept your wine stored in a uninsulated garage or storage room – the excess water vapour can create the growth and presence of mould on the bottles. If this such thing happens this can and will spoil the label and de-value the wine which needs to be considered if you are purchasing wine as an investment.
Wine vibrations in storage
When a wine bottle is being stored in a cellar environment, the wine tends to be kept very still. All wines are best left untouched as any vibrations can prove somewhat disruptive to the wine ageing process and cause the wines to separate into layers.
Older wines also tend to be somewhat more sensitive to the occurrence of vibrations. Some of the new world wines are now much robust than they used to be, however a standard kitchen fridge simply doesn’t store wine in the most effective manner. This type of fridge is known to incur some vibration and also there’s also a likelihood of the wine being moved about from time to time.
Odours affecting the wine
Odours are not to be forgotten when it comes to wine storage. Although a wine bottle is sealed, there is still the potential of some odours that can actually sour the wine and basically make the wine undrinkable once you come to opening it.
Failure to controlling the odours and humidity as above can also lead to the presence of mould building up.
Why you should invest in proper wine storage
As a means of storage, any wine lover should not rule out this as an investment; especially wine lovers who have a set theme to their collection or don’t purchase their wine based on price. If you don’t have access to your own wine cellar then there are two main options if you want to store your wine correctly, either a wine storage specialist company with access to their own cellars/storage facilities, or a wine cooler or storage cabinet.
Investing in outsourced wine storage is an effective option however it is very expensive per bottle and gaining access to your wine is not always straightforward. Typically, you will have to plan as and when in advance that you want to get hold of any of your bottles.
Having your own wine cooler offers instant access to your wine right when you want it. It is also a great deal more cost effective in terms of storage capacity and cost associate per bottle. Although the initial outlay is costly, you should be able to expect some decent ROI in the long run. A wine cooler also enables you to be able to fully control how well the wine cabinet is storing your wine. You’ll also be more aware of any downtime of your cooler.
Being able to store up to 300-400 bottles is fantastic as over time you can develop a somewhat enviable wine collection. This can also be aesthetically pleasing which creates a talking point in your home or garage. Having a space dedicated to wine storage is far more effective to the traditional wine rack under the stairs as your wine will be a great deal more ready and waiting as such as and when you wish to consume your bottle of choice.
For this article, we partnered with Elite Wine Refrigeration who are a UK based distributor of wine storage products such as wine cooler, wine fridge and wine wall – we like to work with the experts in the field to bring you best advice and knowledge so if you do have any questions on any of the information mentioned in this article or would like to find out more – please get in touch.