Welcome to summer!
And with parts of the country sweltering through record temperatures already, I thought we should revisit this post I wrote last year.
We usually get a handful of questions about how (and where) to store wine each year, so if that’s something you’re keen to find out more about then this is the post for you!
So, you don’t have a cellar and you’re saving up for a wine fridge (let’s face it, those things aren’t cheap). But you have a couple of bottles that you know are going to age pretty nicely and would like to put them away for a special occasion (like Wednesday). Where and how are you going to store them?
Rob wasn’t much help when I asked him… “Just drink them”, he said!
For those of us who want to hang onto a 2013 Cape d’estang Sparkling Cabernet or a 2010 Somerled Shiraz for a little while longer, here are a few tips…
While the ideal temperature for storing wine is between 12 and 14 degrees (where a wine fridge comes in handy), the key is to find the coolest and darkest part of your house. Think a cupboard built toward the middle of your house, not the outer walls, under internal staircases or on the bottom shelf of your pantry. Wine can survive quite nicely at temperatures above optimum. What it doesn’t like is extremes of hot and cold. A spot in the house that is consistent in temperature is perfect.
I probably don’t need to say this, but just in case… don’t store it in hot places like an uninsulated shed or garage, near a fireplace, or on top of a cupboard. That’s a sure-fire way to “cook” your wine. Also, if the wine is under cork, the expansion of the air in the neck of the bottle can push the cork out, causing oxidation.
What about the fridge? While this is ok for short term storage of a couple of months, it’s not recommended for long term cellaring. A spare old fridge turned down can often be a good storage option though. You just need to add a tray of water (read on for why…).
This a hard one to control but just make sure the spot you choose isn’t too dry (one of the reasons the fridge isn’t the ideal spot). Wine under cork prefers to be stored at around 50% humidity. Anything less than this will dry the cork out and lead to oxidation of the wine. The acceptable range is anywhere between 50 and 80%. Anything more than this and there is a risk of mildew or mould damaging the cork and/or the wine (but only if the bottle isn’t properly sealed).
If the area you have chosen is not humid enough, you can always add a tray of water to artificially create a more humid environment.
For short term storage, vibration isn’t too much of an issue. However, if you’re storing wine over several years, this can have a huge effect on the quality, flavours, aromas, and texture. It can cause a chemical imbalance in the wine. So, please don’t store your wine next to appliances like dishwashers, washing machines or dryers.
Ultraviolet (UV) light will degrade and prematurely mature your wine. In fact, it is one of the reasons wines designed to age are bottled in coloured-glass bottles. Light from internal light sources aren’t so bad as the sun coming in from a nearby window, but fluorescent bulbs do emit very small amounts of UV light.
Standing up or lying down?
If the wine is under cork, then you definitely want to lie it down. Keeping the wine in contact with the cork keeps it moist and stops it from drying out. For other closures like screwcaps, it doesn’t make too much difference.
Of course, this depends on the wine. According to Rob, good wines aren’t going to improve much more after 10 years. Having said that his 2001 Somerled Shiraz still has some life left in it! My personal advice is, don’t push your luck. There is nothing worse than hanging onto something for too long and finding out it is past the point of no return.
Wine is a living thing… it is constantly changing even well after it has been bottled. And while the bottle and the closure go in some way to helping protect the wine inside, it still needs a little TLC from you to make sure it lasts the distance. And if you are consistently cellaring high-end wines, then a wine fridge isn’t a bad investment.
Or, you can just follow Rob’s advice and drink it!
Get it before it’s gone!
Rob has been busy bottling our 2018 Shiraz along with our new 2019 Tempranillo.
Which is great news because we’re getting pretty low on the 2018 Tempranillo!!
… and our once-off 2017 Clare Cabernet Sauvignon will be a thing of the past before we know it!!
… and if you’re loving an icy cold glass of 2020 Rose on these balmy summer nights, then you’d better get in quick!!
Let me know via email if you would like any of these wines before they’re all gone! You can’t say I didn’t warn you!