6 Conditions to Keep in Mind When Storing Wine
Storing wine, for the casual drinker, means slipping bottles into wine racks, and then leaving them there until an occasion calls for their consumption. There’s nothing wrong in that scenario from the get-go. However, keeping the tipple in less-than-ideal conditions will gradually compromise its quality. You see, wine is a rather delicate beverage. It can lose its balance, quality, aroma and astringency if storage conditions are not up to par with the global standards of wine storage.
Proper storage comes with several factors namely temperature, humidity, storage stability, the presence of light, bottle positioning, and keeping wine away from strong odors. Not meeting all the aforementioned dynamics might result in ruined wine collections, particularly if tipple is to be stored for long periods.
Let’s delve on the finer points of wine storage further.
A Consistently Cool Storage Temperature
Generally, wines are sensitive liquids. It is reactant to storage temperature, specifically if it fluctuates all too often. High temperatures hasten the aging process, prompting oxidation and compromise the flavor; sometimes the beverage develops odd notes in the process. Temperatures that are deemed too cool, on the other hand, cause the flavor, astringency and the aroma to fade.
Red wines are robust and slightly more resistant to heat than whites, thus the ideal storage temperature for such ranges from 10 – 15ºC (50 – 59ºF). Whites accept the given range, but some purists store them at slightly cooler temperatures ranging from 7 – 10 ºC (45 – 50 ºF) just to be safe.
According to some experts, storing wine at around 15 – 20 ºC is perfectly safe, provided that the temperature does not fluctuate. Fluctuations in temperature will cause the liquid to expand and contract, disrupting the molecules and adversely affecting the chemical reactions within the wine. Air molecules may give the tipple a “raisin-like” or stewed flavor.
Normally, bought commodities are to be stored in a cool, dry place upon purchase. Wine isn’t one of them. Cool temperatures are fine, but if the level of humidity is too low, the cork could be parched, losing its grip on the bottle. When this happens, large volumes of air molecules will enter. This can spoil the wine or allow the growth of molds.
To avoid this, the humidity should be kept at around 65-75% RH. This way, the corks are kept tight for long periods. Renowned wine storage facilities have cellars that keep humidity at a constant rate. These establishments can preserve the wine for years with its characteristics unchanged and even improved. Remember, some wines are best served and enjoyed after aging.
A Dark Environment is Best
Same as heat, wine reacts adversely to light, as constant exposure to a light source hastens the beverage’s aging process. It may not spoil quickly, but it may steadily lose its aroma and flavor. Wine bottles often come in dark hues as a means of protection from harmful UV rays. However, sunlight can still penetrate a bottle if it’s directly exposed to a light source.
Wine cellars and storage facilities are dark on purpose, protecting the tipple not just from sunlight, but also other strong means of illumination like incandescent lamps and halogen lights. With this, the phenolic compounds in wine are shielded from adverse chemical reactions caused by prolonged exposure to light.
A Stable Wine Cellar
Serious wine enthusiasts believe that constant vibration for prolonged periods can speed up wine aging and gradually alter the good qualities of a fine bottle. The harmful effects of vibrations are not as severe as heat or light, but it could still contribute to wine degradation. For this reason, wine racks often come as sturdy and heavy fixtures, at times immobile.
The racks used by bars and restaurants are built into walls for reinforced stability, minimizing the likelihood of vibrations occurring. As for wine warehouses, they stow wine in isolated areas with controlled environments. The racks are sturdily built and provide a snug fit to keep the bottles protected from sudden movements.
Don’t Keep the Wine Bottles Upright
For unopened wine, the positioning of bottles while stowed matters. One would notice that wine bottles are never upright when placed in racks or cellars. The ideal position is to lay the bottles sideways or slanted. In doing so, the wine touches the cork, keeping it moist, which preserves its tightness as a stopper.
Keeping the wine bottle upright for long periods will eventually dry out the cork. If it loosens its grip on the bottle, air and other particles can enter and spoil the tipple.
Keep the Wine Isolated from Food and Strong Odors
Wine is quite an impressionable liquid. When placed alongside food with strong flavors and odors, it can take on some of its characteristics. This distorts the pleasant qualities of wine. Normally, the cork keeps outside odors and flavors away from the tipple, but if it starts to dry out, molecules coming from outside sources could enter the bottle. To be safe, store the wine at an isolated place.
When storing wine, one has to be aware of the factors that can affect the quality of the beverage. The task can be tedious and may require a lot of space, especially for serious wine collectors. Reputable wine facilities, like Singapore Wine Vault, have specialized cellars that are conducive for long term storage. At Singapore Wine Vault, the temperature and humidity levels are controlled, with supreme protection from light and vibrations. Your wine collections are certainly in good hands.