Few wine lovers are lucky enough to possess perfect purpose built, cavernous, subterranean cellars. Many of us have imperfect storage arrangements for our wine, but it is important to understand how to protect wine from damaging conditions so that we can make the most of the wine storage facilities available. Wine storage conditions don’t need to be perfect, but the finer the wine and the longer you intend to store it for, the nearer to perfect they have to be.
There is a lot of variety in the way in which different wines will react to adverse conditions. Red wines tend to be more robust with white wines being more delicate. There is also variation between the grape varieties, with grapes like cabernet sauvignon being considerably more resilient than pinot noir. The aim in this article is to give you an overview of the factors to consider and the options available for storing your wine.
Temperature along with light is responsible for doing the most damage to wine. The ideal wine cellar temperature is between 7-13 degrees C. At the higher end of the scale wines will mature faster. The key though is a constant temperature. If all other factors are optimum then it can be ok to store your wine at much higher temperatures (eg room temperature) as long as its a constant temperature.
If you don’t have a cellar in your house then think about using north facing walls, under the stairs, a well insulated garage or coal hole. Keep a thermometer in your storage area so you can check for a consistent temperature.
Natural and artificial light will do a lot of damage to wine. If your wine storage area isn’t dark like a cellar or under stairs cupboard then this is a very easy to overcome problem. Try and block of the area with a curtain or cover the wine with a blanket.
Relative humidity for wine storage should be at least 55% with the ideal range being 70-75%. The role of humidity in wine storage is slightly controversial, although lack of it is believed to aid oxidation of the wine.
Wine really doesn’t enjoy too much movement. If you ever need to transport your wine or if its just been delivered from your merchant then its important to give the wine a few days rest. If you happen to live in a house that gets shook by heavy traffic, trains or planes, then try and store your wine in an area that is least affected.
There is a plethora of wine racks available to buy. This is an important purchase as wine should always be stored on its side. Storing wine on its side keeps it in contact with the cork thus preventing the cork from drying out and letting air in.
Buying and renting cellar space
The five points we have just covered are your main considerations when choosing where to store your wine. If you have the money, it is possible to purchase a wine storage cabinet. These temperature and humidity controlled cabinets resemble fridges, but will give you absolute perfect storage conditions. Another alternative would be to install a spiral cellar. Many companies now sell and install these if you have the available space and money. For those wine lovers that are buying the finest wines to lay down for many years it may be worth considering renting cellar space from a reputable wine merchant. This will be costly, but money well spent to protect your investment.