17 Aug 10 + 1 Practical Tips for the proper storage & wine aging in your cellar
The ideal cellar, moderate temperature, humidity & lack of light, are key factors in maintaining a bottle of wine that we want to store. Below we have gathered some basic tips for the proper storage of wine so that you can enjoy it in the ideal conditions at the right time.
- THE IDEAL AGΕING CELLAR
A cool basement with a temperature that does not exceed 12 ° C with the appropriate humidity levels (65-70%) is unfortunately very rare to find. Made of clay or stone, the ideal cellar is a wine dedicated room that you can create in your apartment or house even if you do not have one. Nowadays, there are many ways to improve the performance of what you have, if you follow the basic rules and buy the appropriate equipment. Insulators, air conditioners, wine racks are immediately available and allow those who wish, to create a place dedicated to the storage of wines with the best possible performance.
If you live in an apartment in the city: Choose the darkest, northern, coolest room to install your wine cellar. Alternatively use the back of a garage or stairwell in your warehouse. You can take some empty bottles and ask from the carpenter in your neighborhood, to create a combination of cases for different bottle sizes, as big as you want based on the room you will use for storage. Remember to always place the bottles sideways so that the cork does not dry out leading to wine oxidation.
2. WHAT IS THE IDEAL TEMPERATURE FOR WINE PRESERVATION?
The temperature of a cellar plays a direct role in the evolution of the wine in the bottle. The more the temperature rises, the faster the wine evolves. But more than the temperature itself, its fluctuations are crucial for wine preservation. Heat shocks are very harmful for wine ageing, so a slight rise in temperature during the summer, provided it does not exceed 18 ° C, will not cause irreparable damage. Instead, it will allow the wine to live and thrive quietly. Having a cellar at 12 ° C is only interesting if you want to keep your wines for a long time. In fact, at this temperature, the growth of wines is very slow, so you have to be very patient to drink them at the right maturity which is about 12-14 degrees.
– If you are wondering why cellars are usually dark, it is not a random choice to simply add notes of mystery to the tasting. Light can be a deadly enemy to wine, especially for white wine.
If you live in an apartment in the city: Moderate temperature can be achieved with good insulation on the walls (you can even use Styrofoam)
3. THE HUMIDITY OF THE CELLAR
A fundamental factor in the good ageing of wine is the humidity of the cellar that is often overlooked by wine lovers who focus only on the impact of temperature on ageing. However, a cellar that is too dry can prove to be disastrous for bottle maintenance, causing irreparable damage. In the absence of sufficient moisture, in at least 70%, the corks dry and the wine evaporate. Due to evaporation, the bottle’s wine levels fall rapidly, causing premature oxidation. This phenomenon is further aggravated if the temperature is too high. A hygrometer is therefore a necessary instrument for installation in your cellar and you should react immediately if the humidity level is too low, for example by watering the cellar floor regularly. Excessive moisture, on the other hand, is not harmful to wine.
If you live in an apartment in the city: Installing a simple hygroscope / hygrometer in your cellar – (you will find plenty in the trade starting from 10-15 € each) – to monitor these two very important parameters (temperature & humidity). In addition it would be helpful to install an air circulator or a small air conditioner with a dehumidifier – available on the market – and use it when the temperature and humidity are very low. Otherwise, you can simply create a hole in an exterior wall of the room for natural ventilation.
4. THE DARKNESS IN THE CELLAR
Light can be a deadly enemy to wine, especially if it is white, which in prolonged exposure takes on what is called a taste of light, a weak aromatic deviation. White glass bottles are particularly sensitive to this, as they allow more UV rays to pass through. This is why many producers who market their wine in this type of bottle sometimes wrap it in toilet paper. A cellar should therefore be as dark as possible and have low-intensity light bulbs. Neon light bulbs should be banned as they exposure to it will irreparably harm the wine.
If you live in an apartment in the city: Use a dimmer so that there is a choice of low electric light depending on the exposition of sunlight of the room (there are many more options in low electric light lamps so that the wine stored in your cellar is not exposed to bright light)
5. THE CELLAR ROOM IN YOUR APARTMENT
This solution remains, for all those who do not have a satisfactory cellar, an excellent alternative. Nowadays, many companies offer this type of prefabricated cellars, with very different possibilities, designs and options. Prices can also vary significantly. Before making your choice, you should clearly define your needs and in particular know if this cellar is intended to age the wines for a long time. In this case, it is imperative to choose a high-performance model, with permanent humidity control, ventilation and absence of vibration. These models, are often more expensive, but offer a guarantee for your bottles. Lower quality models usually do not offer much more than most conventional wine coolers.
PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS
* The moderate temperature:
- It is provided with very good insulation or with air conditioner, in the case that you have a room in your house as a cellar
* The constant humidity:
- If the humidity is not satisfactory, place a container with water or wet sand in the area.
* Direct sunlight and UV rays (ultraviolet radiation):
- If the room is not dark, you can simply cover the bottles (eg with a blanket).
- “Do not disturb the bottles sleeping”. Unless you have a cellar next to the washing machine or your house is next to the train tracks, you have nothing to worry about. After transportation, changing of position or transferring by car, the wine will recover from the initial shock as long as you give it some time.
6. HOW MANY YEARS CAN A WINE BE PRESERVED?
When should I drink my wines? This question torments all amateurs who want to open their bottles and enjoy them while they are at their best. In addition to the initial estimated ageing potential, the lifespan of a wine bottle depends mainly on the storage conditions. In an underground cellar at 12 ° C, with no transitions and completely dark, the wines age much slower than in a dry room at 15 ° C. It is therefore important to properly evaluate the quality of your cellar and to regularly check the condition of the bottles stored there. There is no ageing limit for wine and some bottles over the age of twenty are still incredibly young for consumption and can be kept for even longer. It is also a matter of personal taste, as some wine lovers prefer those wines that develop the tertiary aromas of great ageing, while others prefer dry fresh wines that stand out for their fruity character.
7. WHAT IS THE IDEAL BOTTLE SIZE FOR AGEING?
All comparative vertical tastings suggest this: the larger the size of the bottle, the better the wine is preserved. Also, if you do not intend to consume it immediately, you should completely avoid small 0.375ml bottles, which tend to oxidize very quickly. The ideal bottle seems to be the magnum, which allows the wine to retain more freshness than a classic bottle. The issue is even more apparent with champagne, whose bubbles are always more vivid after a few years in the cellar. For any ageing over 10 years, we advise you to choose this size that is close to 1.5l or even larger.
8. CHANGE OF CORK IN WINE BOTTLES
When storage conditions are not perfect, some of the wine in the bottle may evaporate, causing the contents of the bottle to drop. Cork, whose lifespan is not eternal, can also be damaged. Therefore, if you want to keep the wines for a long time (several decades), it is advisable to cork them. This delicate operation is generally performed by wineries when they have old crops for sale so that the quality does not decline, but under certain conditions: if for instance there is a grand cru or a special vintage that they want to reintroduce to the public they might invest on changing the corks of the bottles.
9. PERMANENT VENTILATION.
Bad smells and mold threaten the good preservation of wines. Good air circulation is essential to avoid these negative effects on the evolution of wine. Each cellar must be provided with a ventilation system in order to constantly renew the air in the cellar, in a natural way. The best solution is a filtered, slow and constant air flow that circulates with a pressure difference between two openings.
10. A SYSTEM AGAINST VIBRATION.
Significant vibrations threaten to disrupt the growth process of wines by accelerating their aging and preventing the deposition of tannins. In wine cabinets, compressors or chemicals pose a risk and increase the electrical consumption of the appliance. A suitable system that combines a disconnected compressor and shock absorber is preferred.
If you live in an apartment in the city: Try to choose a room that functions as a storage space, so that the door remains closed most of the day and there is no human presence and therefore vibrations.
11. PRACTICAL AND ACCESSIBLE STORAGE.
The right combination combines maximum storage capacity with minimum space. For a smart use of space, certain criteria must be taken into account: the different sizes and shapes of the bottles as well as their quantity. Particular attention should be paid to the stability of the materials, because in the long run, unsuitable supports risk bending or breaking under the weight of the bottles stored on top of each other. You can sort your wines according to whether you want to age them (red or some white wines) or consume them immediately (rose and light white wines), it will help spatially manage your wine cellar and protect as many bottles as you can.
BOTTLES AGEING IN THE CELLAR OF DOMAINE FLORIAN
The emphasis on sustainable agriculture and natural vinification, the love for nature and biodiversity and the production of wines that can still evolve after years of aging in the bottle, are key components of Domaine Florian’s philosophy.
We do not follow the market trend to promote the new wines produced within a few months after we harvest them. On the contrary, we let each wine rest in its fine lees in the stain steel tanks for at least 4-5 months in order to highlight all the characteristics of each grape variety that brings different aromas and adds to the palate. The wine will later be stored for a few months in our underground cellar that has moderate temperatures thanks to its special construction of natural clay and marble. Its specially designed ventilation, the dehumidifier that provides an ideal level of humidity and its dark underground layout, provide the best possible conditions for the ageing of the bottles.
VISIT US & TRY OUR OLD VINTAGES IN A UNIQUE WINE TOUR
If you are interested in creating your own cellar, you can visit the basement cellar of our winery to find out more during a wine tasting & tour. Contact us to suggest you an authentic wine tour based on our availability and to share with you even more secrets of proper wine storage.