And so you have finally gathered in your very first harvest.
You chose the wine grape variety and looked after the vine during growing season and throughout quality control. You were also personally involved in the classification, destemming, crushing, fermentation and pressing of the grape yields. To boot, you also had a say in the type of label, bottle and packaging, resulting in a unique wine that bears your unmistakable imprint. And when the wine-making process was completed, you asked Ana, “So, what now?”
Ana de Castro, the winemaker at The Wine & Country Club, is the person who walked you through the entire process, guiding you every step of the way to help you produce the perfect wine that best suited you and your taste.
The time had come for you to store your very first bottles, and winery workers at the Club offered various suitable options. You, however, wanted to learn how to store them at your winery estate, so you could have them on hand whenever you felt like cracking one open, without having to turn to Jorge or any other Club staff member.
“Alright then, I will give you a few tips on how to properly store your bottles of wine at home, so it always tastes great by the time you uncork one.” After this enlightening introduction, you took good note of Ana’s sound advice and helpful guidance. “And please, feel free to ask me any questions you may have or just come by the Club if you need my help; I will be more than happy to assist you”, added Ana.
Ana is such a little star! You never suspected just how important she would be to your winery estate and vineyard. Both Ana and Jorge are lifesavers, and you certainly have The Wine & Country Club to thank for that.
But let us get back to the 5 core pillars of wine storing, as Ana explained them to you.
Side is best. It is best to lay the bottles on their side to ensure corks stay moist and swollen, which avoids any air getting into the wine and stops corks from drying out—a dry cork will lead to leakage and spoil the liquid remaining inside—. Plus, horizontal racking is also a space-efficient solution! It is also advisable that you do not shake or move the bottles around—the vibrations could disturb the wine’s sediment and prevent it from settling—; instead, allow the wine inside to lay undisturbed and continue to age in the most natural way possible.
Temperature. Locate the coolest space and avoid sharp fluctuations in temperature—keeping wine at a warmer temperature will accelerate the aging process and damage the wine—; instead, keep the temperature consistent to ensure maximum enjoyment of the wine’s flavour and aromas. The ideal temperature is 12-16 °C, but this will vary for each wine style and the length you are intending to keep it for. The best spot to house your wine is a cool, dark, not-to-damp basement or storage room that can double as a cellar, or an area specifically designed as a cellar. Rule out your kitchen, laundry room or boiler room, where hot temperatures could affect your wines, and look for a location not directly in line with light pouring in from a window.
Humidity. Conventional wisdom says that wines should be stored at an ideal humidity level of 70-80 per cent. The theory goes that dry air will dry out the corks, which would let air into the bottle and spoil the wine. Conversely, extremely damp conditions are perfect for mould to grow—this will not affect a properly sealed wine, but can damage the labels—.
Light. Avoid light (especially sunlight) as it can cause damage to wine and encourage premature aging—chemical alterations, such as oxidation of the wine colouring matter or riboflavin photodegradation, result in what is known in the world of wine as ‘light disease’—.
Keep wine separate. Keeping wine away from strong odours ensures it does not become tainted. This is especially important once wines are opened, so bear this in mind! Also, ensure the circulation of fresh air for the right balance between temperature and humidity.
A Few More Wine-Storage Basics You Need to Know
And just for good measure, Ana also explained that the most efficient way of storing sparkling wines is in an upright position, so as to preserve carbon dioxide levels and ensure corks stay moist.
Time is of the essence. Not all wines age at the same rate, nor can they all be stored for the same length of time without losing their characteristic features. Many factors come into play; but, broadly speaking, the rule of thumb is to store young wines for a maximum of one year—and enjoy them within a year from their release—. For their part, crianza wines can be stored up to 5 years, and reserva and gran reserva wines may be stored for 10 to 15 years.
And once you uncork a bottle of wine, you should try and minimise air exposure, as this promotes oxidation. If you open a good bottle of wine and do not want to finish it, then you can put the cork back into the tip of the bottle neck and put it in the fridge, and this will last a little longer. Sometimes it will taste even better!