Laying wine down for future use or as an investment is a very complicated business. There is much to think about, for example what wine, what year, when will it mature etc. etc. Due to the complexity of this issue we always advise that you seek professional assistance in the process of selecting and storing wine. We can provide that type of assistance if required.
In this article though we are going to deal with one issue only, the issue of actually storing the wine. We will look at temperature, humidity, racking, turning and recording. Although this will be fairly comprehensive advice it is to be noted that these are not rules but only guidance and guidance for the beginner at that. We want to give you an overview of how your cellar should function in most circumstances.
Although a cellar is traditionally seen as the best place to keep wine it is not the only place. By reading the following conditions you might be able to see that a corner of a guarage or even a garden shed can be suitable places to store wine, as long as the conditions are maintained.
Temperature should most importantly be kept as consistent through the year as possible. An underground cellar is perfect for this but it is by no means the only option. The temperature should also be kept lower than about 10 degrees C, colder if possible. An attic is not really suitable as it has large temperature swings over the year. The temperature should also not drop below about 2 or 3 degrees.
The humidity is important as some people say it can prevent cork shrinkage which is a major cause of wine going off or becoming “corked”. Corked wine is basically your worst enemy if you are keeping wine and all the endevours we describe here are aimed at preventing that. The area you store your wine should be slightly damp, not damp enough to rot the labels but definitely not too dry.
Bottles should be kept on their sides. This is important again to stop the corks drying out. Racks should be positioned so that the labels of the bottle can be seen easily. The racks need to be pretty strong as they will hold a lot of weight. There are an abundance of ready made racks, browse the internet for the best ones for you depending on price and quantity.
Turning the bottle a quarter turn every 6 months is a good idea. Do not be rough with the bottles, turn them gently. The idea behind this is to stop layering of wine and to help the wine mature evenly throughout it’s volume. There is a small amount of air inside each bottle and turning the bottle helps keep this air in contact with different parts of the wine.
It’s great to have a cellar full of wine but this is a long term project, After a few years it will be difficult to remember the wine you have bought, why you bought it and when it should be drunk. All wine has a peak maturing date. After that date the wine will still be good, hopefully better than when you bought it but the quality will start to fall. It is essential therefore that you not only record how much of each wine you have but a range of other information. You should record when you bought it, when it was laid down and when it should be drunk at the least. It may also be necessary to record where in the cellar it is. A little booklet is the best way to keep this information and it can be very satisfying to glance at the book every now and again to remind yourself of what you’ve got.
In conclusion, anyone can keep wine. You don’t have to be super wealthy, you don’t even have to live in a house with a cellar. Storing wine for future use can be hugely satisfying, especially when in just a few years, you are drinking a £50 bottle of wine you bought for £15. It is slightly risky as wine can go off but with the right guidance the chance of this happening can be reduced.