Storing and Aging a Wine Collection (feat. Spirit World)
When we’re talking about wine storage, there are four factors that we want to look at One is temperature, one is light, one is humidity and moisture, and one is stability. Wines that you are going to store for an extended period of time, these rules will apply. Most wines we really are going to want to drink within 2-3 years of purchasing them so we’re looking at that 10-15 or 20-year period for these factors. It’s going to be red wines, for the most part. There are some whites that you can store for that long a period– they tend to be some of the bolder grapes like Cabernet, Merlot, wines from the Old World regions, like France, Italy, Spain… Some of those wines tend to last longer. As a very, very general rule of thumb, you can say the more you paid for it, the longer you can probably cellar it. So let’s talk about temperature for a minute. Really, the ideal temperature to store wine is about 55 degrees, but not all storage conditions can reach that absolute ideal temperature, so really we’re just looking to keep it under about 70 degrees. Anything above 70 degrees can really start to deteriorate your wine faster, so really the ideal is just keep it under 70 degrees and over about 45-50 degrees is going to be the right temperature. So with light, you’re really just trying to keep the light exposure to a minimum. Light is another thing that causes the chemical reaction of the aging process to expedite. There’s a reason that wine bottles are tinted, and it’s basically to prevent or to minimize light exposure to the wine, so it’s kind of like sunglasses–the way we wear sunglasses. The tinted bottle is kind of like sunglasses for your wine. It’s just keeping out some of the UV rays to slow down the aging process. So that’s kind of a good cue sometimes, to see–especially with white wines, is this a wine I should be drinking now, or a wine I could age? Look at the color of the bottle. The goal with humidity is that we want to keep the cork moist, so this plays in to both the way to physically store the bottle. It’s recommended that you store wine on its side, or even at an angle. For example, you can see these wines right here are stored at an angle, You just want to make sure that it’s at an angle that would cause the liquid level to keep the cork moist up there. And you don’t want to store it in an area that gets too dry or too cold, because you want to keep the air moisture level to keep the other end of the cork moist enough. So when we’re talking about stability, what we want to do is find a place that is away from any appliances that would cause vibration to the bottles of wine. Our typical home refrigerators aren’t built to prevent vibration from the motor–the cooler motor so that’s why there are specific wine refrigerators that protect against that vibration. You just don’t want to disturb the wine–there could be sediment at the bottom, and it causes the sediment to filter through and that could change the flavor of the wine over time So we really just want to keep that wine in a nice stable place, without any vibration nearby that could cause the wine to move around too much. The best place to store wine is going to be just a cool, dark place. A lot of times it can be a closet, a basement–basements can be really great for wine storage, an enclosed storage facility… There’s a very very slow chemical reaction that happens to wine as it ages over time. So the cork at the top–there’s a reason that cork is used and not something that is less air-tight because cork does allow just a tiny amount of oxygen to come in, and you want that. When we say aging wine, there’s an intentional very slow aging process over time, where it improves in the bottle over time, and that’s because you’re getting just that hint of oxygen in over the years. There are several different ways that a wine could go bad, it could be from rot to the cork, it can be from too much oxygen, so generally when we say it’s “gone bad” because of the age, it’s the oxidization process, so it’ll taste like vinegar. When you open it and it tastes like vinegar, you know it’s bad. If you have a wine that you really like, buy a few bottles of it and then you can open it over time. Open one in 5 years, and if you like it, you know it’s good to go. If you say, “Well, you know, it seems like it maybe could benefit from a little more aging,” then you know to leave the other bottles in there for a few more years and see how they do. You just have to experiment and go with experience over how long to age a particular bottle.