Wine collecting is a craft that takes a lot of knowledge, patience and dedication, but when done correctly, it can be incredibly rewarding and impressive. Wine is one of the most interesting and unique beverages in the world and is unparalleled in terms of its ability to improve with age. For the wine to age correctly, it needs to be stored in some very carefully controlled conditions such as a freestanding or built in wine cooler. In this article, we will take you through the basic considerations of storing wine, and the several ways in which you can improve the quality of the wine’s ageing process.
Which wines benefit from ageing?
When it comes to collecting wine, it is extremely important to do your research so that you know exactly which wines are meant to be aged, and which are not. Many wines are not only known for ageing well, but they will also require a little bit of ageing in order to fully develop their flavours. Here is a list of red wines that are known for ageing particularly well:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
Typically, white wines do not age as well as red wines because they are not fermented on their grape skins. With this being said, there are a number of white wines that have been shown to improve in texture and flavour over extended periods of time. Here is a list of white wines that are known for ageing particularly well:
- Chenin Blanc
When it comes to rose wine, it is often the case that they are designed to be drunk as young as possible. This is because rose wines are made with minimal acidity, concentration and tannins so there is not much that needs to be developed. If roses are stored for too long, their primary, fruity flavours will fade and the wine will become extremely bland. With this being said, there are a few roses such as Bandol, Garrus and Les Clans that are made of the best grapes and will, therefore, get better with time.
Temperature is one of the most important factors you will need to consider when storing and ageing wine. Wine needs to be stored at a balanced, maintained temperature in order to prevent spoilage. The temperature in which the wine should be stored depends entirely on the type of wine it is, its alcohol percentage and its level of tannins. For example, red wine should generally be stored between 8-10 degrees Celsius, whilst white wine should generally be stored between 16-18 degrees Celsius.
In order for these idyllic temperatures to be achieved and maintained, the best thing to do is to get yourself a wine cooler. Wine coolers allow you to control the temperature of your wine to the degree and they do through a compressor or thermoelectric technologies.
If you do not have a wine cooler, you should simply ensure that your wine collection is stored in a consistently dark, cool space such as a garage or basement.
Temperature fluctuations can be extremely damaging to wine which is why it is so important to ensure that your collection is stored in the right conditions. If the environmental temperature alters, the wine bottle’s closure will start to loosen and this will allow oxygen to get in. If the wine is exposed to such oxygen, the delicate make-up of the wine will be disrupted and hence, the wine will spoil.
UV rays are just as harmful to wine as fluctuating temperatures. This is because the rays can actually penetrate through glass and the light essentially provides heat. If wine is left in direct sunlight for extended periods of time, the heat will cause an imbalance in the chemicals and this will cause the wine to ruin. To ensure this doesn’t happen, you should position your wine collection in a space that is dark and away from any windows. You will find that many wine coolers are actually equipped with UV resistant glass, but even with this feature, you should still try to keep the unit out of the sun’s firing line.
High levels of humidity are extremely necessary when it comes to keeping your wine cool and preventing the cork from dehydrating. If your wine is exposed to low levels of humidity, the bottle corks will be susceptible to drying out and crumbling off into the liquid. If this happens, the wine will also become susceptible to oxidization which can be extremely harmful to the wine’s delicate composition. Unless your living space is particularly humid, we would advise that you invest in a wine cooler to ensure that the wine is kept at the right temperature and level of humidity.
If you are a wine enthusiast, you will know that oxygen is the biggest enemy of fine wine. Due to this, it is extremely important to minimize air exposure to the wine once the bottle has been opened. You can do this by using corks or wine stoppers to seal the bottle as soon as the wine glasses are poured. You could also funnel the leftover wine into a smaller bottle which will essentially reduce the amount of air the wine is in contact with. When it comes to sparkling wines, you will need to instantly seal the bottle once the glasses have been poured as the bubbles will disappear instantly if left uncovered.
Movement and vibrations
When wine is laid down in a wine cellar, it remains undisturbed, in the same position until it is ready to be opened. Without a wine cellar, you should try and mimic these conditions as closely as possible, whether that’s with the help of a wine cooler or not. There are several reasons why movement and vibrations can be extremely damaging to the wine’s ageing process. One of these reasons is to do with chemical reactions. When a wine bottle experiences vibrations, kinetic energy is formed and this is what causes the chemicals to react. When wine experiences unnecessary chemical reactions it can become susceptible to losing the quality of its taste.
Another way in which movement and vibrations can be harmful to wine is to do with the wine’s sediment. Sediment is the natural matter found typically found at the bottom of wine bottles. When the bottle experiences movement and vibrations, the sediment will rise from the bottom of the bottle and integrate with the liquid. When this happens, it is very likely that the wine’s taste will alter.
In order to ensure that your wine is thoroughly protected from this type of damage, there are a number of precautions you can take. You should ensure that you do not stack your wine bottles directly on top of one another as this will be extremely disruptive to the wine when trying to retrieve a specific bottle. You will want to also want to make sure that your wine collection isn’t stored in too close proximity to appliances such as tumble dryers, washing machines and dishwashers. This is because these appliances are susceptible to vibrating when they operate. You should also ensure that your wine collection is located away from the door and any heavy foot traffic.
Another factor that will have a significant impact on the quality of your wine’s ageing process is the location in which it is stored. If you are working without a wine cooler, your best bet will be to store your wine collection in a garage, basement or a utility room. On the other hand, if you have or are thinking of buying a wine cooler, you will have a few more options to explore. One of the most favourable places to store wine coolers is the kitchen. As wine coolers are typically extremely stylish and modern in their design, under counter wine fridges are designed to fit seamlessly into the majority of kitchens. Despite this, not everyone will have sufficient space to install a wine cooler in their kitchen. Another great place to store your wine cooler is in a garage or basement. These locations are perfect for storing wine as they are typically spacious and consistently dark and cool. You can also install your wine cooler in your living room to create a unique design feature or in your utility room for optimum convenience.
To ensure that your wine cooler is going to work perfectly, you will need to ensure that it is adequately ventilated. Whilst the majority of integrated wine coolers are equipped with front-facing ventilation systems and can therefore, be installed amongst appliances and against walls, freestanding wine coolers are slightly different. Because their ventilation systems are typically found at the rear of the unit, it is extremely important to ensure that the cooler is not positioned in too close proximity to any other surfaces or appliances. To allow for sufficient ventilation, the cooler will need to be installed with at least 3-5cm of space around its sides and back. If this requirement is not fulfilled, the cooler will not be able to dissipate heat and it will, therefore, become susceptible to overheating. If the cooler was to overheat, the wine contents would be likely to spoil.
When storing and ageing wine, the positioning of the bottles is a critical part of the process. Whether your wine is stored in a wine cooler or a wine rack, you should always ensure that the bottles are positioned horizontally. The purpose of this is to keep the cork nice and moist to prevent it from drying out. This will also ensure that the bottle is protected against oxidization, which can happen when bottles are stored vertically. Storing wines horizontally is also more effective and efficient in terms of the cooling process. You should also make sure that the bottles are not stacked on top of each other as this will be extremely disrupting to the wine when it comes to retrieving specific bottles.
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