Unless you’re sitting reading this from an armchair in your purpose-built, temperature controlled wine cellar, the chances are you store wine like the rest of us do. White in the fridge. Red in a cupboard or a wine rack on the sideboard.
But the way we store and keep wine is very important and can really affect the final drinking experience. This is particularly the case if you’re planning on laying down a few bottles for a long time as a future investment. Poorly stored wine is not good for your potential returns.
So, with that in mind, here are just a few of our top tips on how to store those precious bottles.
1. If you’re serious about wine collection, get a serious set up
Most of us will buy wines that need to be enjoyed relatively soon. The longest we’ll store wines for is a few years, if we can resist the temptation to open them. But for those of you who are looking to spend more on classic vintages that will age over longer periods, then you need to invest in your storage too.
This will most likely involve building a cellar of some sort. It’s the best way to control the three key factors – humidity, light and temperature – that will make or break your wine.
The system should store your wine in an environment that manages all of these variables, as well as holding the bottles in a tilted position that means the cork won’t dry out. The average cost of a walk in cellar is around $40,000 dollars – so make sure the wine you’re buying is worth it!
2. Understand the importance of heat, light and humidity
Even with the most basic set up, you need to take those three factors we’ve mentioned into account. Too much warmth (over 21ºC) speeds up the ageing process. Too cool, and it’s likely the cork will dry out. Once that happens, the air gets in and your wine is in serious trouble.
Humidity is also important, again because it stops the cork from drying out. And wine should always be stored somewhere dim. The key with all of these variables is not to worry too much, but instead to aim for maintaining them all at steady level. Wine loves consistent conditions, and can put up with a lot as long as things remain relatively stable.
3. Try not create too much vibration
This factor is a lot less important than keeping your wine in a cool, dry and dim place. But it does have an impact on the sediment and the way that the wine ages, so try not to keep your wine somewhere where it is likely to get shaken.
4. Lay the bottles on their side
Two really simple reasons for this. One, it keeps the cork moist. And secondly it is just a lot more efficient way to store bottles in terms of space.
5. And if you haven’t got a cellar, don’t panic!
We don’t all have a cool, dark cellar to store our wine in. So, you’ll need to improvise. Pick a room where there aren’t dramatic changes in temperature, and find yourself a good rack that has plenty of room for your growing collection to expand into. Garages are good, but watch out for frosts.
And if you’re keeping your wine indoors, then you might need to invest in a wine cooler to combat the effects of any central heating.
Jürg Widmer Probst