Care about stability
The correct temperature regime is extremely important, it allows you to preserve the aroma of the wine and its flavor bouquet. The ideal temperature is from 10 ° C to 13 ° C, while fluctuations in the region of 2-3 ° C are considered acceptable.
If the air temperature in the cellar is below the specified norm, it slows down the maturation of the wine. A higher temperature accelerates this ripening, which seems to be good, but there is one danger: there is a risk that the potential of the drink will not be revealed, that its taste will not reach its climax. So temperature stability should be the main concern, its fluctuations, including those associated with the change of seasons, are extremely dangerous.
To maintain this stability, experts say, it is best to store wine in an earthen cellar with stone walls, but with an adobe floor. If this option is not possible, the floor must be covered with fine gravel. And, of course, the bottles should not be located near either a heat source (for example, a radiator) or a cold source – the insulation should be effective.
In principle, any separate room is suitable for storing wine; it is not necessary to bury yourself in the ground. Only in this case it will be more difficult to maintain the necessary microclimate inside. Or more expensive, which in this case is almost all the same.
A closed box is not a good idea
Maintaining the correct humidity is no less a concern than the temperature regime, so there should be a device in the wine cellar to measure it – a hygrometer. Its readings should fluctuate around 70-75%.
Lower humidity causes the corks to dry out, they become less airtight and begin to let air through, which spoils the wine. The easiest way to increase humidity is to place a large container of sand in the cellar, which should be moistened at regular intervals.
High humidity in the cellar is considered less dangerous for wine, but you can fight it like this: put a ceramic or glass container with quicklime, which absorbs moisture.
In a too humid cellar, the labels will first deteriorate (they will simply creep), and after a while the corks. To avoid this, you can wrap the bottles in plastic wrap or cover the walls with lime once a year (this also helps fight insects).
Wood absorbs moisture, so storing wine in wooden boxes is not a good idea. The cardboard boxes in which wine is sold in stores are even worse.
Stay out of the bottle!
The formation of mold in the cellar is the most common thing, but it has no place in the wine cellar, since mold spoils the cork. Therefore, ventilation is also necessary (natural or artificial – your business), as well as a sufficient volume of air, otherwise it will be difficult to avoid stagnant processes.
There should be no foreign odors in the wine cellar – they can penetrate into the bottle. This is especially true of petroleum products – their smell kills the wine instantly. Other products subject to fermentation should also not be stored next to wine – cheeses, vegetables, fruits. This also applies to other strong-smelling items.
Experts advise to sniff the bottle cap from time to time. If an unpleasant smell suddenly appears, it means that the cellar needs urgent ventilation. And, of course, the storage must be clean.
Tasting in the dark
Any light affects the taste of the wine badly, not to mention the fact that it can cause unnecessary temperature rise. Therefore, the wine must be kept in complete darkness.
But, of course, one cannot do without lighting in the cellar, for example, during his visit, which means that some lamps will be required. Faint cold light bulbs, such as low pressure sodium lamps, which emit little heat, are best. Neon lights are not good.
Calm, only calm
Like any living creature, wine does not like unnecessary noise and anxiety. Shocks and vibrations destroy the wine, as it wakes up bacteria that can reduce its quality, and ultrasound, for example, can destroy dyes or tannins.
That is, if there is a busy street next to the storehouse or, God forbid, a railway line, bad bacteria that have come out of hibernation (some wines are especially sensitive to them), will “give” the wine a sour taste of lactic acid.
This problem is eliminated in this way: rubber gaskets are placed under the wine racks. In a word, it is better not to disturb the wine once again – not to touch the bottle for no reason, not to turn it over, not to shake it.
In the prone position
Since the cork must fit snugly against the glass so as not to allow air to pass through, and during long-term storage this can only be ensured by its contact with wine, bottles should be stored in a horizontal position.
There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. For example, champagne and other sparkling wines. The pressure inside bottles with such wine helps to moisturize the cork well and fits it tightly to the size of the vessel. That is, in this case, the horizontal position is not necessary.
Some other wines also like to stand, in particular – sweet ones, such as port or French Banyuls and Maury.
Wine should be stored horizontally
Life in a closet
Living conditions, of course, do not always allow you to acquire your own cellar or a special wine room. In this case, there is an alternative solution – a wine cabinet, which just simulates the storage conditions in the cellar – the correct temperature, humidity, darkness. In Latvia, such devices are sold at a price of 150 euros for the smallest, ten bottles, a locker up to 3 thousand euros for a storage with a liquid crystal display and electronic control.
An electric wine cabinet provides storage stability that cannot be achieved in a conventional cellar. However, experts say that wines intended for long-term storage, that is, for many years, are still better to be sent to the correct cellar, since no engineering achievements are yet able, as, indeed, in all other matters, to surpass the abilities nature. With this in mind, it must be remembered that a wine cabinet is a storage device for wine that will be drunk over a period of several months.
What you need to know when buying a wine cabinet
It matters, of course. And it depends, first of all, on the volume of wine you consume. In theory, the cabinet should hold as many bottles as you drink in 6-12 months.
The cabinet should be equipped with an adjustable thermostat and thermometer to indicate if the unit is functioning properly.
It is very good if the cabinet can provide different temperature levels (there are many such models). White wines and those that are already ripe can be placed in cooler air. Even wines that are still in good condition like warmer conditions.
Some cabinets have a “summer-winter” switch, providing two storage modes and automatically tracking changes in the “outboard” air temperature, adjusting the conditions according to the entered program.
The presence of a control over the level of humidity and a hygrometer – a device that measures it – is a mandatory requirement for a wine cabinet. The ideal humidity level is 70–75%. If the humidity level is not controlled in any way, this is not a wine cabinet, but a wine cooler, the only task of which is to bring the drink to the correct temperature before serving.
Odor protection …
Putting a wine cabinet in the kitchen is logical and correct, although it is completely optional. But in this case, one will have to reckon with the fact that strong odors will constantly be felt in the air, to which, as we know, the wine is extremely sensitive. This means that the cabinet must be equipped with an air filter. There are also wine cabinets with filters to prevent mold … and vibration.
If your apartment or house is located in the city center, where heavy traffic is guaranteed, near a railway, highway, vibrations and shocks in the premises cannot be avoided. Excessive shaking of wine is contraindicated, therefore it is recommended to choose a cabinet with shock absorption.
There are a great many options for the exterior of wine cabinets, but apart from modern-looking cabinets made of metal and plastic, in Europe they are also in great demand made of natural oak, fig tree, pear, beech.
Recently, wine cabinets with transparent doors have become popular (for someone, apparently, it is important to look after the safety of the collection, and you can once again brag to guests). This transparency, of course, is conditional – the glass will necessarily be matte, not allowing ultraviolet light, which is harmful to wine, to pass through.
Some models of wine cabinets may also have interior lighting using special “cold” lamps.
“Wine is a living drink that is constantly evolving.”
So says the founder of the Noble Wine company Alexander Minaev. He built his own wine cellar and shares with his readers the experience and secrets of proper wine storage.
– Is it possible to convert an existing cellar into a wine cellar, or is it better to build it from scratch, specifically for storing wine?
– There are several basic requirements for the room where the wine is stored. Humidity in the range of 60-70%. Temperature without sudden changes, ideally 12-13 degrees, but it’s okay if it fluctuates around three degrees during the year. Lack of regular vibrations from vehicles and other equipment. Lack of direct sunlight. Lack of extraneous odors.
If all these requirements can be met, then an existing cellar will do. In addition, the need for a wine cellar was relevant at a time when people could not control the temperature. Nowadays, there is no need for a cellar, for proper storage of a wine room equipped with a special air conditioner. Of course, the presence of a cellar gives a special feeling and avoids the cost of electricity – the temperature in the cellar is maintained in a natural way.
– What expenses do you have to reckon with when equipping a wine cellar?
– Construction costs do not depend on whether you are building a wine cellar or for other needs but depend on the area and conditions in which the construction is taking place. After the cellar is built, there will be a question of equipping wine racks and maintaining the desired temperature. The cost of the shelves depends on the chosen material and design, the spread can be from 0.5 euro cent to 5 euro per bottle stored. That is, if the storage is for 1000 bottles, then the cost of wine shelves can range from 500 to 5000 euros.
To maintain the desired temperature, special conditioners for wine rooms are used. Models from the Eurocave company are popular. Their cost depends on the volume of the room: 25 cubic meters. m – 2500 euros, 50 cubic meters. m – 3500 euros.
– Are there specialists or companies in Latvia who can help build a wine cellar?
– I don’t know such people in Latvia. There are company contacts in Lithuania. If anyone is interested, let them contact us – we will advise and give the coordinates.
– What mistakes are most often made during arrangement/construction? How can you avoid them?
– Poorly made waterproofing. It leads to an increase in humidity and the formation of fungus, which spoils labels and creates unnecessary odors. If the room is not sufficiently insulated, this leads to frequent temperature fluctuations. If ventilation is not provided, this leads to the appearance of mold and odors.
– Are there any secrets in this case?
– The main secret, in my opinion, is to think in advance and plan a room for the required number of bottles, taking into account the purpose of creating a collection. You need to understand how much wine you plan to put in a year, how much you plan to consume, what the horizon of use, how you see the arrangement of the bottles, whether you plan to taste the wines right in the wine storage. Technical secrets are now quite easy to find on the Internet or in special literature that we can advise.
– Does the interior of a wine cellar matter?
– The interior is your own business and depends on your taste and capabilities, this does not affect the quality of wine storage. The only condition is that the bottles must be stored horizontally. Materials that cannot tolerate high humidity and give off odors should also not be used.
– Is wine often spoiled due to improper storage?
– This can happen due to the low level of humidity in the room for a long time (from several months to several years), as a result of which the wine cork begins to dry out prematurely on the outside, increasing the risk of air getting into the bottle, which will lead to wine spoilage. Too high or too low temperature, its sharp drops – all this negatively affects the quality of the wine, changing its structure irrevocably. In some cases this wine can be drunk, but it has already lost its original properties. Wine located in a room with foreign odors will absorb these odors over time (over several years).
You need to know that wine is a living drink that is constantly evolving. Oxygen penetrates through the cork in microscopic quantities and reacts with the wine – this is how the wine develops gradually at the desired temperature. Depending on the region, grape variety and winemaker’s hands, the best age for wine consumption is from 3 to 30 years. For wines over 20 years old, it is recommended to replace the old cork with a new one for safe storage.