How to store wine?
The cellaring of bottles is one of the most common practices among wine consumers of the connoisseur level worldwide. It needs a certain level of knowledge, as cellaring is always an exercise in predicting when each bottle will reach its ideal moment for consumption.
We’re also talking about a collection that will become not only an area for storage but also a place for personal reflection and pleasure.
First of all, before talking about storage conditions, we need to define which wines merit this distinction and for how long.
Not all bottles are apt for cellaring; we need to rule out those young wines that are intended to be drunk quickly.
This doesn’t mean that a few months or years of rest in the bottle doesn’t help the tannins to integrate or the acidity to soften in these wines, but nonetheless, time is not going to add any added complexity to these wines that justifies the wait.
This pastime is undoubtedly more suited to wines with a certain amount of structure given through ageing in barrels, or wines with searing acidity, as is the case in some Riojan whites.
We’ve mentioned it before, but we’ll say it again, the white wines from our region are “cellarable” and even more so if they have been oak-aged, as is the case in our Montecillo Blanco.
In fact, to a greater or lesser extent, all the Montecillo wines are apt for cellaring.
Even so, not all of them require the same amount of time, as a general rule, the more time they’ve spent in oak (Reserva or Gran Reserva), the longer they will take to reach their moment of splendour, just as wines from cooler climes (Rioja, Burgundy or the Mosel) last longer than those from warmer regions (Priorat, Languedoc or Tuscany).
Another aspect to consider is that if the right reds are chosen, this collecting habit can become an investment in the financial sense, as well as one that offers not inconsiderable pleasure.
Certain bottles, like those from the great Riojan vintages (64, 70, 81, 82, 94, 01, 04, 10), appreciate in value with the passage of time.
A red wine from 1964 that cost 20 euros (in the money of the time) could be worth 600 euros today.
As you can see, in this case, being able to drink ultra exclusive wines is just a matter of patience.
And now the practical issue.
How should they be stored?
Most wines in the collections of major wineries are laid down for decades in idyllic underground brick cellars, full of charm and spiders webs, where no light can enter, the temperature is constant and the humidity high.
If you possess something similar you need read no further, as your mission is to fill it with bottles and none of the following information is of interest to you.
But as facilities like these are not common, it is necessary to find other ways to store wine, creating the ideal conditions, for example, artificially, using fridges designed specifically for this purpose.
Let’s divide it into different factors:
Heat and temperature fluctuations are the enemies here; the key is to age the wine at a constant temperature. The ideal is to keep them at 14ºC.
Any lower and the bottles will evolve more slowly, and if they are hotter then the opposite will apply.
Therefore, although the different wine fridges show the temperature on the front, the best thing is to also have a temperature inside to check that it is working correctly and the temperature is well regulated. Belts and braces.
If the humidity is very low, the cork will dry out and the wine could oxidise due to air getting in, therefore, except in the case of sparkling wines, where the cork is hermetically sealed through pressure, you should keep the bottles lying down in such a way that the liquid remains in contact with the cork.
Here, the ideal is to keep the bottle at between 75% and 80% humidity, one of the features of the best quality wine fridges.
Another thing that a wine fridge can help with is to protect the bottles from strong smells, as these can also penetrate even when the bottle is closed. It is very important not to store them next to gas, solvents or other chemicals.
If you don’t have a cellar – of either the natural or wine fridge type – it is important, for the reasons already discussed, not to keep wine in the kitchen, next to a heat source, in the bathroom or the terrace.
The best place would be a basement or a cupboard with no radiators in a cool room.
Now it’s just a question of deciding what to store.