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Storing Your Wine

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's been so stinking hot the past few days.  Temperatures in the middle 90's and humidity in the 70% range.  Could it be global warmingMaybe? But, of course, it sure beats freezing your butt off and paying the heat bill.  It got me thinking about how wines should be stored.  Not that it really makes a difference at my house.  Most of my wines are consumed within a year of fermenting.  On a very rare occassion will I find something that is 2 years old.
 
Here's an article from Wines.lifetips.com that mentions about the angle, the light and the movement in a room. 
 
Think of Angle, Light and Movement When Storing Wine.
 
Wine making at home requires attention to every little detail. Many guidelines tell you at what temperature to keep your wine stored. However, don't overlook other elements in the room that could detract from your wine once its made and waiting for use. Think about the angle you store your bottles, the light in the room and minimizing movement of bottles once they are stored. Table wine is stored horizontally so that the wine stays in contact with the cork. This keeps the cork moist which prevents air from entering the wine. Fortified wines other than port are stored standing. If bottles are stored with the labels up, it will be easier to see the deposit of sediment that forms on the opposite side of the bottle when it comes time to open it. Wines should be stored in such a way that you don't have to move them around to get at a particular bottle. Once a wine is laid down, it should stay there until it is opened. Light will prematurely age a bottle of wine. Incandescent or sodium vapor lights are better for a cellar that fluorescent lighting. While clear bottles are most susceptible to light, ultraviolet light will penetrate even dark colored glass. Ultraviolet light may give a wine unpleasant aromas and ruin it. Extra care should be given to sparkling wines as they are more sensitive to light than other wines.
 
Personally, I keep my wine in my office at room temperature even though they say that 60 - 65 degrees is the perfect temperature.  So far, I have had no problems but if the heat wave was to continue for another couple weeks, I would probably store the wine in my basement.
 
This list of helpful hints from Winedining.net is more in tune to what you should do for storing your wines.

Wine Storage

The storage of wine is not a factor for most people because wine is usually purchased and then consumed shortly after. However, if you have any intention of keeping wines around for months then some precautions should be taken.

Never leave a wine open to direct exposure to the sun. Exposure to the heat and light of the sun can very quickly ruin a wine. Drastic temperature changes can also have a major effect on wine.

For someone wanting to store wine for aging purposes, you need a dark area free of vibration with a temperature ideally constant between 50 & 60 degrees F and a humidity level of 70 to 95 percent. Wine should also be stored away from odor causing products, ie: paints or solvants.

The amount of attention given to wine storage is directly related to the price and quality of the wine being stored. A first-growth Bordeaux will require ideal conditions, even if it means that you must go out and purchase a wine storage unit.

If you are storing homemade wine then you may not be so concerned with temperature fluctuations since its storage life is relatively short anyway.

The majority of wine drinkers don't have the resources or desire to put a lot of money into producing an ideal wine storing environment. However, in most cases a dark place with no vibration can be found eg. a bedroom closet, a low traffic corner of a basement (NOT under the stairs or near the washer and dryer or furnace).

If you are careful to select ageable wines that are moderately priced, then you can get away with some temperature fluctuations, such as a house in the Northern climates without air conditioning.

Temperature fluctuations will cause your wine to age quicker.

Shorter shelf life is not necessarilly a bad thing. You can experience an aging wine during a short time span. I have had this over 6 months with homemade white wine, and 12 months with homemade red. 

As a general rule, red is more ageable than white. This is because of the tannins that red wines have. Tannins come from contact with grape skins during fermentation, and also from oak aging. .

If you want to invest in racks for a basement wine storage room, you choices are wood, metal, or man-made. Cardboard is not recommended due to the chemicals in its production. For more information on wine storage, why not invest first in a good wine book. I recommend Wine for Dummies, 2nd edition  It's full of tips and humour. 

Part 2 of the White Wine Grapes will be posted next week.  So, stop by and give it a read.


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