Simplifying Wine Storage

Written by
Vintage Cellars
February 16, 2017
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The key to getting the most out of a bottle lies with the ability to store it correctly, both short term and long.

Wine is a lovely thing. It tastes great, it pairs well with food and also has the ability to age. That is, it will last a long time and remain delicious if you are able to store it well. There aren’t too many other consumables that we age deliberately, but in many cases, when we do, these are for weeks or months and perhaps a year or two at most; and in most cases the ageing is done before purchase. Wine, on the other hand, can age for a generation or beyond.

Before we discuss some of the ways to best maximise your house for wine storage, you’ll be aware that wine evolves. If you like a wine as it tastes today then you cannot assume you will like what it turns into. You may love it, you may be more fond of aged wine, but wine is a living thing and it will taste different as it ages. In its youth, like a growing human, it is bright, bouncy and strong. Then, as it ages, it weathers, becomes more interesting and more complex, but it also has a certain frailty as the evolution continues. At what stage of life you prefer your favourite wines is entirely up to you, and it will likely vary from bottle to bottle.

Short term storage

Not everything has to be hidden in the cellar for years - sometimes you just want to open a bottle on Monday night and make it last until Thursday. With most young wines, 2-3 years old, they are robust and handle being open for a couple of days. In this short time, if you leave it open on the bench, you will see the wine start to deteriorate and oxidise. To avoid this happening (and bear in mind, the first two days after opening can see a perceived improvement) you need to get oxygen away from the wine. The simplest method is to pour the wine into a plastic bottle, squeeze all of the air out and screw the lid back on. Keeping it in the fridge will also delay development. This is cheap, easy to use and involves very little else than a steady hand to pour.

If you like to keep wine for a few months before you drink it, a little teaser looking at you from the cupboard, then find the coolest and darkest place in the house. Very little will happen to wine in such a short time in a closed bottle, so just avoid direct sun and heat.

Long term storage

From one year to ten years the tenets of good cellaring remain the same. Keep them in the dark and keep them away from heat and widely fluctuating temperatures. If you are blessed with a cellar, the cool, constant temperature will be to your favour. If you are not, then you may need to arrange a wine fridge. If the modern, aesthetically sleek wine fridges don’t fit your budget, you can always get a standard fridge and turn the temperature up to suit your needs - a constant 14 degrees would be fine. It is better to set your temperature cooler than you favour, as the wines will always warm up once they are served.

Position

As the cork closure is slowly replaced by screw caps, the need to lay the wine down is diminished. The laying down of wine with a cork closure is simply to ensure that the cork remains moist and keeps the pressure outwards against the glass. If the cork dries out, the bottle will leak, eventually.

What to keep for the long term

This decision comes down to the producer. Just because a grape has the DNA to be a long-lasting wine doesn’t mean it is made to last, so find producers that make wine for the long haul.

Vintage sparkling wine and Champagne

Arras 2001 Blanc de Blancs

Pol Roger 2004 Champagne

Riesling

Pikes The Merle Riesling

Chardonnay

2003 Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay

Pinot Noir

2013 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir

Shiraz

2013 Elderton Shiraz

Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Majella Cabernet Sauvignon 

Barolo

2010 Massolino Barolo