Wine begins to deteriorate the moment you uncork it. This occurs even when you store it properly. To age wine the right way is more of an art than simple beverage storage. Those who are skilled in the storage of wine are able to enjoy perfectly matured plonk with all the flavor and aromatic qualities preserved just right. Even so, it is no simple task and needs practice, knowledge and the right equipment. This is the only way you can make sure you are creating the right environment for your wine to age in.
Wine has the capacity to increase its quality over time like no other alcoholic beverage. This, though, needs you to create conditions that remain carefully controlled over the period of aging. If you have a wine cellar at home, then you can design it to the specific conditions. Even if you don’t have a cellar, there are still ways in which you can age your wine the right way.
Aside from aging wine, check out “How to Store Wine After Opening” for a guide for storing your wine away.
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1. Keep the Temperatures Cool and Constant
A lot of people tend to take their wine with them to the kitchen, like any other food items. Though this could work for a whole lot of drinks, when it comes to wine, the kitchen is the last place you should keep it. The temperatures here are much warmer than is required for wine.
The basement would be a better place to keep your wine as it is cool and dark. Wine lovers, that want to keep their wine at the perfect temperature conditions, know to buy a wine refrigerator. The specially designed fridge will keep your bottles of wine at a constant temperature of about 120C (540F). As temperature is one of the most crucial aspects of wine storage, you may have to invest in a small wine fridge for a few bottles if you don’t have one. This will make things much easier for you.
2. Keep Your Wine in a Dark Place
Wine should age in the dark. When exposed to light, it degenerates due to the chemical reactions that take place. Light coincides with heat, which changes the structure of the wine by oxidizing it. One way to find out if your bottle of wine has been exposed to too much light is to smell it. The unmistakable odors will tell you of the chemical reactions that have taken place in the bottle. The wine may smell of rotten eggs, which indicates the presence of hydrogen sulfide caused by the presence of dimethyl sulfide. Di-methyl-sulphide attracts flies.
Be sure to also check out “What Happens if You Drink Bad Wine” for tips on how to tell if that bottle of wine you have is still good.
3. Go for High Humidity
High humidity levels are not just encouraged in the wine cellar-they are indispensable. In a humid wine cellar, the cork is safe from dehydration. If by chance the cork should dehydrate, the seal falls and leaves your wine exposed to oxidation. These are conditions you can only achieve in a wine cellar or wine refrigerator. Your basement may just come about handy for this sort of thing.
4. Think About Bottle Orientation
When it comes to aging wine, you need to consider how you keep the bottles as position matters. Wine bottles are stored horizontally. This is why wine lays on its side even on the wine rack at the store. The main reason for this is to ensure that the cork remains moist. This is the same reason you need humid conditions in the room you store your wine for aging. Even in shipping, wine is packed neck down to maintain a moistened cork even away from the humid conditions of the wine cellar.
Take a look at “How Long is Wine Good for After You Open It?” as well for your wine bottle maintenance tips.
New studies report that there is an optimal way to orient the wine bottle in storage. In this position, the cork remains moistened and the air bubbles rise to the neck of the bottle. When in this position, the bottle would generally be in a diagonal lean. The aim is to slow down oxidation and at the same time maintain the integrity of the cork. You shouldn’t worry about orientation too much as long as the bottle is not upright. Besides, it would be hard to nail this in a fridge or normal cellar.
5. Choose Proper Equipment
Aging wine properly is all about the conditions you store it in. The right equipment guarantees this. Some of the most efficient storage equipment can keep your wine in proper condition for more than a few years. You should invest in an electric unit for aging. These are similar to fridges but have more controlled conditions for humidity and temperature. You can get a free-standing aging unit with gliding racks. The more you splurge on one of these units, the better you can store your vino as they come with a gamut of settings that could come in handy when making wine at home.
6. Know Which Wines To Age
There are no specific rules when it comes to the amount of time you should age a bottle of wine, but there are guidelines about which wines to age. This mainly depends on the grape variety. There are wines that are meant to be consumed a year after release. Many whites are better when consumed young. Check out “How Many Grapes are Used for One Bottle of Wine?” to see the grape variety that goes into one bottle.
Here are some of the main wine varieties that get better with time:
- Vintage Ports
- Pinot Noir
There are wines that don’t add much to their quality with time. You would be wasting your time trying to age these, and will probably spoil rather than improve them;
- Nouveau wines
- Moscato Spumante
Some wines just need about three years of aging, after which they increase a very small percentage of quality. Bordeaux and Cabernets, for instance, are flavorful and can do with long periods of aging to soften the tannins. Many dessert wines also benefit from long periods of aging.
Not sure if that aging bottle is still good to consume? Check out “How to Tell if Wine is Bad?” for tips.
7. Work To Ensure Quality
If you are the type of wine drinker that likes to buy your wines by the case, then you will need proper cellaring for the highest quality. This will require you to create a log to help you keep track of the wines in your cellar so that you can drink each bottle at its peak. Check out “How Many Bottles in a Case of Wine?” to see how you can log your types of wines in your case.
8. Avoid Disturbances Or Vibrations
Wine has chemical compounds that can disintegrate if the bottle is constantly disturbed. Vibrations of any kind will break down molecules in wine. Ensure your cellar is not close to any appliances that would cause vibrations such as a washing machine. If you are storing your wine in a natural cellar, then you might want to have gravel on the floor for better stability.
9. Use Magnums Whenever You Can
The maturity of your wine depends also on the size of the container. This can speed up or slow down the aging process. In this case, use magnums (size of a bottle of wine) if you can find them as this improves the maturing process. This all has to do with the ratio of oxygen to the wine. Half bottles oxidize very fast and should not be used for vintages that are to be stored for ten years and over.
10. Use an App for Your Cellar Book
Today, you can find a number of high-tech apps that help you track the progress of your wines as they age. These may come with a subscription fee or a one-time payment, according to the manufacturer. You can also get a free app from some manufacturers.
The most important aspect of storing wine for aging is to monitor the conditions very strictly. It is highly unlikely that you may want to age the wine for a decade or two. A small wine fridge is great for wines that you intend to keep for at least a few years. You will definitely become an expert at aging wines as you keep learning about it and open yourself up to trying new approaches.
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Let us know in the comments below your techniques to storing your wine properly at home. Also check out “How to Recork Wine like a Pro“, “How to Hold a Wine Glass?“, or “How to Drink Wine the Correct Way” for more helpful tips to drinking wine at home.
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Bottoms up! We’ll uncork ya later!! 🍷