Before we get into our wine storing guide, allow us to tell you a story. An adventure almost as old as society. A tale that began more than 8000 years ago has been with us all the way, and hopefully, there will be no parting with it.
It is a kind of love story: wine and mankind. The roots are traceable to Georgia (6000 BC) and old Persia – today’s Iran (5000 BC). That wine is nothing like the wine we drink today, but the alcoholic beverage we have today wouldn’t exist if those first steps weren’t made back then.
Before moving on, we would not be able to continue if we’re not telling the whole story – there is some evidence of a wine-like alcoholic beverage found in China, indicating that wine could have been as early as 7000 BC. However, this can not be proven nor disproven, but that is not our concern today.
Data from comprehensive history show that people have been taking wine for numerous reasons – celebratory purposes, as a sign of strength and power, or for romantic occasions to display affection. Ancient civilizations like Rome, Greece, and Macedonia drank wine for these purposes. And if you are here, you already know that humanity’s fascination with wine still hasn’t run out.
What you might not know is the wine-making process. So fasten your seat belts, grab some red wine to relax with, and enjoy the show. There are five necessary steps in wine-making: harvesting, crushing and pressing, fermentation, clarification, and then aging and bottling.
Indeed, one can find endless deviations and variations along the way, but the process is tailored to the needs and desires of the one who makes the wine. For example, making red and white wine is almost the same, while crafting rose wines and sparkling wines is another matter entirely.
Picking is undoubtedly the first step in the actual winemaking process. There isn’t a fruit out there with enough sugar to endure the amount of alcohol necessary for the beverage to be preserved. However, the harvesting step is not merely about picking. It is mostly about determining the best time for the harvest.
Experts, consultants, winemakers, and many other employees have a say in deciding when the harvest will happen, preferably when the grapes are physiologically ripe. There are different ways of harvesting the grapes, but the two are most frequent – mechanically or by hand. In which the second one has taken the victory.
Most estates prefer hand-harvest as machines can be forceful and rough on the grapes, soil, and the vineyard.
Crushing and Pressing
Like the one before, this step has two ways of achieving the same thing as well – traditionally where people crush the grapes themselves or by mechanical crushers that stomp or trod the grapes.
For more than a couple of generations, men and women performed the harvest dance in barrels and presses to create the exquisite beverage that is wine. However, today’s mechanical presses might have lost the sentiment, but the winemaking process has gained speed and has improved the wine’s quality and longevity.
The heart of the winemaking process is the third stage – fermentation. If left alone, the juice begins fermenting naturally within 12 hours with the aid of wild yeasts in the air. However, in a controlled – sterilized environment that most vineyards have, they use a strain of yeast of their choice to manage the product better.
Once the fermentation begins, it lasts until all of the sugar turns into alcohol, which tends to occur anywhere from 1 week to more than a month. Depending on the climate in which your vineyard is, your wine will be sweeter or with more alcohol percentage. Sweet wine is produced when the fermentation process stops before the sugar has been converted into alcohol.
When the wine has fermented, and all the sugar is gone, and the beverage has created alcohol itself, the clarification process begins. There are two ways to do so – racking or siphoning. IN between those processes, some winemakers also filter and fine the wine.
Filtration’s goal is to catch large solids, and it can be done with anything from a coarse filter to a sterile filter pad. The clarified wine is then racked into another vessel, ready for the last part of the journey.
Aging and Bottling
The last part of the tale of how to make wine revolves around aging and bottling. The winemaker chooses whether he wants to bottle the wine instantly or to allow it to age.
With a bottle, stainless steel, large wooden ovals, or small barrels, you can age the wine. The possibilities are endless, which gets us to the question – how do you store wine the right way.
Top 7 Tips for Storing Wine the Right Way (Guide)
If you are a casual wine drinker, storage might not be a significant concern for you. However, if you have more than three or four bottles on your wine rack, this wine storing guide can help prolong your wine’s life. If you are buying wine from a market, most likely, those wines shouldn’t be stored in a cellar, as aging them for a couple of years would only spoil them.
Wine bought directly from the vineyards should be stored in the cellar. This ensures that the wine gets better with age. Those wines have a higher cost – up to $200,000 a bottle. If you are a collector of this kind of wine, then a wine cellar is a must.
#1 Evaluating the Wine
Before deciding to store a bottle for a couple of years, as a guide, ask yourself, “Is it a fine wine – is it worth storing it for a couple of years?” If it is, for how long will you store it? You need to plan out every bottle’s journey and ask yourself, for what purpose will it be used?
#2 Avoid Sunlight
All this talk about wine cellars without explaining why. There’s a chemistry that happens with ultraviolet lights and wine. If your wine has changed the taste and become worse, ultraviolet rays have affected the wine.
The key takeaway should be to store your wine in a dark and dry place to preserve the great taste for that not to happen. However, if you do not own a cellar, keeping wine inside a box or wrapped lightly in cloth is the next best thing.
#3 Store Wine at a Consistent Temperature and Humidity
As the sub-title states, one of the crucial parts of storing wine is the right temperature; between 45 and 65 degrees is optimal. Aim for 55, any temperature above 70 will be detrimental for wine.
While it is essential to have the optimal temperature and the right humidity, which is around 70%, it is also crucial to keep the air quality the same. The more stable the environment, the longer the wine will last.
#4 Position of Stored Wine
While it may seem convenient to stand a few wine bottles above your cupboard to save space, take this guide from us and be storing it on its side if it has a cork. Upright storage can cause the cork to dry out, leading to oxygen exposure and spoiled wine. Keep the cork moist at all times.
#5 Be Aware That Most Wine Has an Expiration Date
Not all wine is meant to age. Some wine gets spoiled when left alone for too long. The truth is that most wine goes bad after a year or two. Most red wine can spend up to 3 years in storage, while white wine can be stored up to 2 years.
#6 Avoid Strong Odors That Can Taint the Wine
Have you ever heard the expression let the wine breathe? If you have, then you will be thrilled to learn that it has some backstory. Strong smells can permeate the cork and taint the wine. So do not keep the wine in the kitchen or near the trash.
Do not make a wine cellar near paint cans or food like garlic as it will taint the wine. Find a designated dark corner for a wine rack away from cleaning products and anything that might contaminate it.
#7 Keep Wine Out of the Fridge Long Term
This is a common mistake that anyone can make, thinking that wine should not be refrigerated if it’s cold inside. For a couple of days, once it is opened, sure. But for the long-term, wine shouldn’t, or rather mustn’t be stored inside a fridge. Like the previously mentioned strong odors, the vibration can also damage the wine.
Fridge vibrations can alter the wine’s chemical structure and disturb the sediment of some wines. Even when opened, there is a better way of storing opened bottles – with a wine pump. You will remove most of the air and reseal the battle. Red wine should last at room temperature outside the fridge for a few extra days.
Going for a Long Run? Here’s a Guide to Storing Your Wine for Years
There’s a reason people build luxury custom wine cellars for a reason, and that reason is to store their fantastic wine until it’s ready to drink. The secret is to know which wines get better with age and how long you should store them.
A good rule of thumb – the more expensive the wine, the more aging potential it has. Fruity wines and sweet wines won’t benefit from aging much. However, red wine and those with more tannins will benefit much more.
All premium wines get better in storage. However, some get better in theory – their chemistry change for the better, but the taste stays the same. Here are some of the famous wines and how long should you store them to get the best possible outcome:
- Cabernet Sauvignon: 7-10 years.
- Pinot Noir: 5 years.
- Merlot: 3-5 years.
- Zinfandel: 2-5 years.
- Chardonnay: 2-3 years. Better ones can keep for 5-7 years.
- Riesling: 3-5 years
- Sauvignon Blanc: 18 months to 2 years
- Pinot Gris: 1-2 years.
Storing wine for more than a couple of years should be a piece of cake. You only have to bear in mind three key factors that can be detrimental to wine if not dealt with. Light, humidity, and temperature need to be kept at bay for the wine to mature well.
Storing wine in a dedicated room at home, cellarette, or closet is an entirely valid option. The other options include purchasing or renting wine storage facilities that are specifically designed for wine storage. There are also construction companies that specialize in the construction of wine cellars and wine caves. And industries that put their sole focus on creating wine shelves and racks.
As you can see, wine storage is quite a business. Many industries have turned their eyes to the prize, which is the wine storage industry – you won’t have to worry about anything when you decide to store your wine for the long term.
From the cold, gloomy caves of the ancient civilizations to sophisticated wine cellars, storing wine has been a tradition. And a one that is worth keeping. Keeping an eye on the temperature, humidity, air quality, vibrations, and odors will allow you to store wine safely in a place of your choosing.
There are many industries today that help in the wine storing business. You needn’t worry about anything.