How To Store Fine Wine in Optimum Conditions

Jun 13, 17 How To Store Fine Wine in Optimum Conditions

Acquiring fine wine is one stage in the process but if you don’t have optimum conditions in which to store them, there is always the risk that the wine may not mature as you wish.  There are four crucial elements to consider regarding the storage of fine wine – humidity, temperature and air quality, the light and vibration and the security and integrity of the space.

Humidity

According to fine wine experts, the most important factor to consider in your storage conditions is the matter of humidity because it can be the most difficult to control.  The aim of balancing the humidity in your wine storage is to ensure the cork is moist and therefore prevent wine evaporation.  Corks are good seals but not perfect and when wine lies down for a longer period, some of the content does evaporate through the cork.

Where humidity comes into the situation is this – if the air is too dry, the process speeds up and the wine evaporates at a quicker rate, therefore devaluing the bottle, known as ullage or the gap between the wine and the bottom of the cork.  Ullage is used to value a wine at auction houses and this low humidity can make the process quicker and the loss greater.  The idea humidity for wine storage is 70-80% and this is good for some 10-30 years storage, even longer in some cases.

Temperature and air quality

Chateau Cantenac Brown 2007, Margaux, Bordeaux, Left Bank, France, fine wineTemperature needs to be both constant and at a certain level to ensure wine matures as desired, with a setting of around 13-14 degrees Celsius commonly seen as the ideal.  Fluctuations in temperature can damage the cork’s integrity and allow air into the bottle, allowing oxidation to take place and ruining the wine.  Higher than this and chemical reactions will take place too quickly as well as damaging the colour, aroma and flavour of the content.

Air quality is also important so ensure the space is well ventilated and avoid musty smells as well as keeping the bottles away from anything able to ferment such as cheese or fruit.

Light and vibration

The optimum wine storage location should offer complete stillness and a lack of light.  Light can age wine quickly and is why coloured glass is often used in bottles but ultraviolet light can penetrate even this.  UV light interacts with organic compounds such as tannins and makes negative changes to the flavour and aroma of the wine.

Vibrations or movement can also spoil the maturation process as the movement disturbs sediment and speeds up those chemical processes.  This means the ideal storage is somewhere dark and without any causes of movement or vibration.

Security and integrity

The final consideration for wine storage is the security that your collection has because theft is a real problem in the wine world.  Look at having measures to prevent theft and tampering but also to protect yourself financially.  This might mean being certain that there is correct insurance on the storage facility or that you have such insurance if you keep the collection on your premises.  By ensuring that the storage location is secure and has good integrity, you can be certain that your valuable, prized collection is as safe as possible.

 

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