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Guide to Cellaring, Storing, and Aging Wine

April Sullivan
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Guide to Cellaring, Storing, and Aging Wine

Many people would agree that a glass of wine serves as the perfect accompaniment at the end of a hectic workday. It's also ideal when sharing a thoughtful conversation with friends and family at a poolside gathering. You'll need to maintain proper cellaring, storing, and aging processes from cabernet sauvignon to shiraz and merlot to enjoy the ultimate wine experience. 

Each grape variety requires specific care conditions due to multiple reasons, such as the climate of their origin. You'll probably face some challenges when starting a wine cellar, especially if you're an enthusiast who fancies variety. However, with some practice and following a set of guidelines, you'll have a remarkable cellar filled with ideal beverages for all seasons in no time. 

Choose Your Preferred Wine Cellar Type

There are two types of wine cellars: actively cooled and passively cooled. The primary consideration when selecting one from the other relies on how you'd like to integrate the cellar with the rest of your property. 

Actively cooled cellars have advanced temperature-regulating systems built into their structure, providing stable wine storage conditions regardless of rain, snow, or shine. You can have these cellars positioned on the same level as your main building.

Passively cooled cellars are classic underground installations, the type that you'd probably be well-acquainted with from movies and hobbyists magazines. These cellars lack an automated regulation system since their distance from the outdoor climate protects them from wild temperature swings. 

The Fundamentals of Wine Cellaring, Storing, and Aging

Great wine requires proper and consistent care for long-term enjoyment. According to an Italian proverb, "old wine and friends improve with age." Maintaining a stable cellar environment that incorporates several factors to keep your wine flavorful is essential. 

Humidity Levels

Humidity can be a real problem for wine storage, and it's one of the main reasons humans have built and adored cellars for centuries (with the earliest cellar originating in Israel from around 1700BCE). Elevated humidity levels will denature your wine and cause mold formation on the corks on your bottle, ruining an otherwise delectable stock. 

Ensure that you have a reliable meter installed in your cellar to maintain humidity levels between 50 and 70% since each wine type has its own tolerance. 

Temperature Conditions 

Similarly, you will need to preserve a stable cellar temperature range between 11-14 degrees celsius (50-58 degrees Fahrenheit) with a relative humidity of about 60% to optimize the aging process. 

Rapid fluctuations in temperature may result in premature aging of the beverage, caused by expansion and contraction of the bottle, which causes a small but gradually significant amount of the wine's aroma to escape through the cork. Installing a wall-mounted thermostat can help you monitor the temperature of your collection without occupying shelf space in your cellar. 

Lighting Conditions

Never expose your wine collection to direct sunlight (or any other visible light source of glaring intensity). Intense light gradually breaks down the phenolic compounds within the beverage, despoiling its smell and taste by aging the liquid prematurely. 

So, you'll need to keep your cellar away from light sources to avoid the irreversible process that will cause your fave bottle of pinot noir to reek like a damp carpet. If dark basements give you nightmares, consider installing LED indicators to illuminate your storage. 

Vibrations

Yes, wine is a sensitive beverage that vibrations can affect taste and quality. The action causes an energy reaction that interferes with the chemical composition of wine. Disturbing the sediment within the drink reduces succinic acid, esters, and succinic acid responsible for the rich wine flavor enjoyed by millions worldwide. 

Wine experts invented the well-timed remuage technique to keep sediment collected at the neck of the bottle to maintain a perfect seal and give the wine a clear appearance. That shows how vibrations can affect the resulting glass of wine.

Recommended Practices for Wine Storage and Aging

Ultimately, each wine type follows a separate set of care guidelines for optimal results. However, some general practices will help you improve the overall effectiveness of your cellaring systems.

Keeping your Wine Organized

It can be a hassle to find a specific bottle of wine in your collection once your cellar expands to a significant size. Grouping your wine collection based on a category will ensure that you can conveniently locate your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon or share some premium vintage (the year of harvest for the grapes used in winemaking). 

Depending on the size of your wine collection and accessibility, you may sort your beverage by:

Aging Woes 

While "age like fine wine" remains a standard expression, it's only a half-truth. Most wines do not age well since growers did not intend long-term storage. Regular red wines usually have a lifespan of five years, from which they start losing their aroma and flavor. Typical white wines have much lower shelf lives, pegged at around two to three years. 

Do some research to determine age-worthy bottles for your collection. Age-worthy white wines generally appear more transparent than their regular (i.e., non-age-worthy) counterparts. As a rule of thumb, age-worthy red wine usually displays a vibrant hue and may feature higher alcohol content through a fortified preparation process. 

You'd want an entire shelf of expired wine meant for an event or anniversary celebration. When in doubt, approach a wine specialist to help you shortlist the best selections for your cellar!

Melier provides specialized in-depth consultations to help you top up your wine cellar with premium, age-worthy artisanal wine that will pamper your palate. Reach out to one of our experts today and discover a delightfully curated selection uniquely for you!