Sunday, February 13, 2011 -
With the growing popularity of wine collecting over the last century, many people are beginning to view purchasing wine as more of an investment. If you purchase a good wine and store it correctly, the increase in value over the years may be significant. Fine wines are worth paying extra for only if you are able to store them under proper conditions.
Wine can be very highly priced depending on the type, the region of origin, the age and the condition of the wine. It needs to be stored in the correct temperature and environment with no circulating odors.
Wine is alive, and due to this reacts either positively or negatively to its environment. How it is treated will determine how fast or slow it will age and its eventual outcome. Essentially, wine needs to be kept in a neat, dark, damp place with good ventilation, where it can be stored at a constant temperature.
Temperature is a crucial factor to consider when storing or preserving your wine. The temperature conditions determine how well the wine will age. The appropriate temperature for storing wine is 50-55°F; the more you increase the temperature, the faster the wine ages. However, wine stored at temperatures which are too low may develop deposits or other suspensions. Also note that white wines are more sensitive to temperature changes than red wines.
Wine is composed of organic esters, which give wine its distinct flavor, and complex biochemical compounds, which give wine its character. The optimal environment is 55°F because at this temperature there are a maximum number of complex organic ester reactions and a minimum number of organic reactions that will prevent your wine from spoiling. When the temperature rises, the sensitive balance of esters increase and the biochemical compounds decrease, causing your wine to taste unpleasant.
Different wines should be served at different temperatures. Use the following as a guide:
An important tip:
- Rich, Red and full bodied wines should be served at 59-68°F
- Light Red should be served at 54-57°F
- Dry White, Rose and Blush wines should be served at 46-57°F
- Champagne, and sparkling wines should be served at 43-47°F
Red wines can be served directly from storage and white wines should be removed from storage and refrigerated before serving.
An average level of humidity, 70 percent RH or higher, is important for wine storage. Humidity keeps corks from drying out and losing their elasticity. If a cork were to dry out, it would allow oxygen to enter the bottle ultimately resulting in oxidation and the conversion of wine to acid. You may have tasted a wine that you thought was too bitter-this is result of oxidation. Excessive humidity will not harm the wine but will destroy the labels and any other paper products you have included in storage.
Ullage is the term used to describe the fill level of wine in a bottle. Proper ullage describes the recommended space that should exist between the cork and the wine. If there is a small gap, meaning the wine in the bottle is filled to a high level, this is a sign of a new or good wine. However, if the wine is below the shoulder of the bottle, the wine is probably not drinkable.
The following is a guide for your referral:
If the humidity level is kept at 70 percent RH you will have water diffusion, leading to the expansion of the cork. If the cork expands no wine will be able to escape, and no oxygen will enter the bottle. However, if the RH is kept lower than 70 percent the cork may dry out and the reverse will occur.
- Very top shoulder. The normal fill level for any wine over 20 years. This level is the result of a low fill level during bottling or evaporation through the cork.
- Top shoulder. The average fill level for any wine 15 years and older.
- Mid shoulder. This may be due to the easing of the cork or improper storage conditions. The wine is most likely not drinkable.
- Low Shoulder. An extremely poor fill level, unless the wine is very old.
It is important to protect your labels while your wine is in storage. Labels are a form of identification for your bottle; it states the year the wine was bottled, the name, the origin, etc. However, protecting your labels may be difficult seeing as that your wines need to be stored in a high humidity environment and they may fall apart or stain. Many storage companies what specialize in wine storage will be able to provide you with plastic protectors to secure your labels. Check with your preferred storage facility to see if they have protectors available. If not, you can most likely purchase them yourself.
Vibration from machinery, traffic or nearby construction disturbs a read wine's sediment and has the potential to be harmful to all wine. Although this is not a problem in a residential area or home, excessive noise also creates vibrations that tend to be damaging to wine. When storing your wine, it should be stored in a way that when retrieving a specific bottle it does not require too much movement.