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Wine storage: How to store wine properly

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EVERY WINE LOVER WHO LIKES TO STORE WINE IN THE HOUSE, FOR EXAMPLE, UNTIL ITS EXPECTED IDEAL DRINKING TIME, WILL WANT TO KNOW HOW TO BEST STORE IT. HOWEVER, MANY OF THEM OVERLOOK THE FACT THAT THEY DID NOT ANSWER THE FIRST QUESTION FIRST. BEFORE YOU START TO BUILD A WINE-CELLAR AND GO PURCHASING EXPENSIVE WINE STORAGE REFRIGERATORS YOU SHOULD FIRST FIND OUT IF THE WINES YOU WOULD LIKE TO DRINK ACTUALLY BENEFIT FROM PROLONGED STORAGE.

 

What wines do benefit from prolonged storage?

Unfortunately, the myth that all wines will get better as they age is nearly ineradicable, when actually, it is the reverse. Today, only very few wines are produced for longer storage. By producing wine that can be consumed quickly, producers have been doing what they always did: They adjusted to the fact that consumers now want to drink wine fast. Roughly 80% of all wines are ready to drink between 1-3 years after bottling. Even under optimal conditions, the quality of these wines will not improve with prolonged storage. Only 15% of the wines are suitable for a storage time of 5-10 years and only 5% actually benefit from a storage period longer than 10 years. And this is true for both, red and white wines.

Most wines are bought to be ready to drink the same day or the day after. As a rule, you can drink nearly all wines the same day of your purchase, irrespective of their price. However, it is still good advice to let wines settle down for a couple of days so they can recover from the stress of the transport. Wine bottles which were heavily shaken are out of balance and may not taste their best. Often, you may neither smell nor taste this “chaos of the molecules”. But, why settle for anything less than the best?

 

 

Most wines which you will buy today are anything but cranky “divas”. Today, wines are being produced with the latest knowledge of whine; they are being refined, sulfurized, filtered, stabilized and are up to the current standards of hygiene. Some wine reporters like to call wines that survive long travels across continents, improper market presentation and inaccurate interim storage without damage industrial products.  For example, there is the belief that it is a sign of good taste to show off wines in “fashionable” whine racks, preferably, in the kitchen or in overheated sitting rooms. This ignores the fact that even wine produced according to the latest standards will greatly suffer from this kind of storage.

In contrast, there are wines which are vinified and developed in such way by vintners that they can and, sometimes even must, be stored for extended periods of time in order to reveal their full potential. By rule of thumb, one can say that wine has a longer storage life if it contains a higher level of tannin (in particular, red wines), alcohol, sugar (residual sugar), phenol, Sulphur and acid. These individual ingredients positively influence each other, leading to longer storage life. Often, these wines will have gained full maturity and class only after years of proper storage. Improper transport and false storage may lead to modifications in the making of the wine, preventing it from ever fully unfolding its full potential. Considering the prices for high premium wines, as a wine lover, you should handle them with kid gloves. And you can only hope that your whine dealer took them same care for your object of desire.

Speaking of premium segment wines: Contrary to common belief, the retail price of wines is not a reliable indicator for long storage life. To know for sure how long your wines can be stored we recommend consulting your wine dealer about it, or to search the appropriate online forums, and of course, to read through this article carefully.

 

The 5 basics of storing wines

Once you have purchased wines that can and must be stored for several years, you must observe proper storage conditions to be able to later enjoy wines that aged excellently. These five basic rules will help you to create the ideal environment for it:


Constant temperatures
In addition to the right temperature, the air humidity ideally ranges between 90% and 85%. Wines which are sealed with a natural cork may desiccate much faster in rooms with dry air; as a result, they will no longer seal the bottle properly and wine will start to evaporate, oxidize, and loose its quality.


Humidity
In addition to the right temperature, the air humidity ideally ranges between 90% and 85%. Wines which are sealed with a natural cork may desiccate much faster in rooms with dry air; as a result, they will no longer seal the bottle properly and wine will start to evaporate, oxidize, and loose its quality.


Darkness
Forgo any flashy decorative lightning or other light sources in your wine cellar. In addition to high temperatures, light will also damage your wine and lead to a noticeable loss of taste and flavor.


Ventilation
You are wrong if you think that a wine cork and glass bottle are protected from outside smells. Smells in the environment of the bottle may enter the wine over time because neither the cork nor the bottle are 100% sealed tight. Regular air ventilation will reduce the risk of evaporations from mold, laundry room smells or stored potatoes entering the wine.


Motionless storage

And finally, the ideal storage place should be free from vibrations.

 

The ideal wine cellar

Refrigerator or wine storage refrigerator?

Wine lovers without the luxury of a cellar room of their own may ask themselves if they will have to purchase an expensive wine storage refrigerator or whether a standard refrigerator will also do the job. If you plan to consume your wines within 12 weeks from purchase you may store them in the fridge without any qualms. For any storage beyond that time commercial refrigerators are rather counterproductive. Due to the vibrations generated by the cooling pump, these fridges are not motionless and usually they also can not be set to the ideal storage temperature of 10-15°C (50-59°F). The lower temperatures usually present in a standard refrigerator will eventually let the cork of the bottle shrink, letting air enter the bottle. As a result, the wine will oxidize and lose its flavor and taste. Therefore, a quality wine storage refrigerator or the use of so-called wine banks are recommended for professional storage if you are out of other options.

 

Standing or lying flat?

The professional wine world is in dispute about whether bottles should be stored standing or lying flat. While wines with plastic corks, screw tops or glass stoppers can be stored standing without problems, opinions are divided about the storage of bottles with natural corks. Recent studies showed that they may be stored standing as well as lying flat. The wine within the bottle keeps the cork sufficiently moist so that it will not shrink too fast. Some experts limit the “standing time” to 1-2 years while others have no problems with storing the wine in a standing position for longer periods of time. As long as the producers of wine racks or other wine storage systems build upon flat storage you will not have to worry too much about that issue.

At last, the most important thing:  Whether stored for short or long periods, enjoying your wine is key. Cheers!