Bringing home a new or favourite wine is exciting. Perhaps you are ready to enjoy a glass right away or within a few days, but what about when you want to keep it a little longer, build a collection, or have a stock on hand for that special guest or dinner party? Here we provide some tips for you, to ensure the best tasting wine when you finally do decide to pop the cork.
Short-term vs. Long-term Wine Storage
When it comes down to it, most wine is not meant to age very long. According to Wine Folly, the majority of wines you purchase are released within 2 years from being grapes, followed by an often relatively short time in the bottle before being consumed.
That said, not properly storing your wine can mute, or negatively affect wine development and/or cause it to decline or spoil prematurely. Access this handy chart to reference how long different types of wines should be stored away or cellared before consuming.
After you have determined what wine you want to cellar and how long it should be stored for, here are some good tips to consider:
Find a dark, dry spot, and keep wine out of direct sunlight.
UV rays can damage the wine, causing it to break down, affecting such properties as taste, colour and aroma. Note: The reason why many bottles have a tint to them.
Make sure the temperature and humidity of the area you are storing the wine in is ideal & consistent.
Too cold of a temperature will stifle the ageing process, while heat increases this rate, requiring the wine to be consumed sooner. Too dry of an environment can cause the cork to dry out.
Don’t move the wine around too much.
Excess movement or storage in a high traffic zone with vibration can cause the sediment to move around, which is not ideal.
Store corked wine on its side.
This is commonly known, but many people don’t understand why. Storing the bottle on its side, leaves the cork in contact with the wine, keeping it moist. A cork that dries out may shrink, and allow oxygen in which can cause spoilage.
Don’t store your wine near strong smells or odours.
Doing this can affect the taste of the wine, especially with corked wines, as the corks are porous and may allow unpleasant smells to seep in.
Avoid storing the wine in the fridge for too long.
A fridge is meant to keep food dry and cold, and is ok for short-term, but the settings are not ideal for wine storage. Consider purchasing a wine fridge for this purpose.
Ageing Like a Fine Wine…
We’ve all heard the saying. Like with us humans, it can take time for a wine's complexities, true essence and beauty to fully come forth. Wine is first aged or matured somewhat before bottling in a batch process within vessels often made of oak, stainless steel, or ceramic material. According to The Wine Atlas of Canada, reds are usually aged like this for 1-2 years and whites generally less. Once transferred to the bottle, wine continues to age.
Ageing in the bottle differentiates wine from “spirits”. For example, spirits such as gin and Scotch do not change over time in the glass bottle, but wine continues to develop, mellow, and take on a more intense “bouquet” before eventually declining.
As referenced above, certain wines are better than others for long-term ageing in the bottle. Often red wines cellar better as they tend to be higher in tannin content. Tannins act somewhat as a preservative, helping stabilise the wine. Other factors play a part as well such as alcohol content, acidity and sugar.
Wine That’s How Old?
Of course the internet is littered with articles and videos of wine enthusiasts unearthing some insanely expensive and old wines, and some really stand the test of time, despite being a century old or more! A wine will reflect certain aspects of the year it was grown and produced in, which adds to the novelty. Curious about what a wine from the time of Abraham Lincoln tastes like? Check out this video of an expert sommelier tasting a 159 year old wine!
The Baltic Sea’s Perfectly Cellared Champagne
Everyone once and a while, nature provides the perfect environment for cellaring. One such example is one of the most expensive champagnes you can find, the 1907 Heidsieck Monopole Gout American. Referred to as, “shipwreck champagne”, it was found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea in the wreck of the Jönköping in 1997. The wine had sat there for almost 80 years in ideal conditions under the water. When it was finally rescued and opened, it was found to taste amazing!
You might not be planning on keeping your wines for over 100 years but it is still good to know how to properly store and cellar them. Just taking a bit of time and effort to create the right environment for your collection will go a long way in making sure that when that wine hits the glass it is tasting the absolute best it can.