Good things come to those (nerds) who wait

Aging Champagne

Aging sparkling bottles at Schramsberg in CA

I’m pretty skeptical of the virtue of patience and that’s probably why my wine “cellar” has 7 bottles in it.

The ability of fine wine to improve with age sets it apart from most other beverages.  My last post discussed how long to age certain wine,  if at all.  If you choose to let your wines age, make sure you do it right.

If you can muster the patience, you’ll be rewarded by the increased complexity and monetary value of your wine.  Here are some storage tips:

1. Temperature – the key is to avoid big temperature swings.  Somewhere in the 50-59°F range will be suitable for all bottles in your cellar.  You’ll run into trouble in the high 70°F’s – the wine can spoil and have cooked flavors.

2. Humidity – some degree of humidity is a good thing so your corks don’t dry out.  60-75% humidity is the range most commonly cited.  If it’s too damp, you risk spoiling your wine labels.

3. Store the bottles on their sides.  The idea with this is to keep the corks moist because if they dry out, oxygen can get in and oxidize your wine.  Horizontal storage may become less important as more and more alternative closures are introduced.

4. Avoid exposing the bottles to UV light.  If exposed, the wines will rapidly deteriorate.  White wines in colorless glass are the most at risk.

5. Avoid vibration.  Some claim that if the sediment is disturbed in the bottle, it could throw off the aging process.  Unless you live near a train, I wouldn’t worry too much over this one.

6. Security.  If you’re impatient like me, it might be helpful to keep yourself locked out of the cellar.

By the way, if you don’t have a cellar that can maintain the right temperature, humidity and light levels, you can always use a wine fridge.  More about that soon.

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Filed under How to, Wine

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