Building a wine cellar

Straw - an effective insulator for our barrel hall Generally, if a wine is worthy of cellaring then it’s worth cellaring well. A great enjoyment of many wine enthusiasts is to share a bottle of an old interesting wine from the cellar with like minded friends. The quality of that wine (assuming it was good to begin with) will largely be determined by how it has spent its years since bottling. To preserve this quality while allowing the wine to carefully age it is important that the conditions in the cellar are spot on.

It is not unusual to see wines put out on display in the home, and stored in a range of weird and wonderful ways. Some of the basic principles of cellaring wine are well advocated such as lying bottles on their side in racks with the neck lower than the base of the bottle to keep the cork moist. But lets get down to the nitty gritty of what will really protect the wines you have spend time and money collecting.

Wine is susceptible to damage from a variety of sources, most importantly heat, light, dry air and vibration. A constant temperature is the greatest requirement of a wine cellar. Temperature fluctuations lead to the wine expanding and contracting inside the bottle and therefore drawing in and expelling air through the enclosure as it does so. This movement of air (wines greatest enemy) in and out of the bottle speeds up the process of oxidation, which results in premature aging. Temperature fluctuations greater than 2 degrees celsius on a daily basis will hasten the deterioration of a wine. Choosing a wine cellar location with good insulation will assist in maintaining a stable temperature.

The second most important element of a wine cellar is to aim for a temperature range between 12 and 18 degrees celsius, with the ideal temperature being around 15 degrees. This directly relates the chemical reactions that take place to a wine during aging. The higher the temperature, the more quickly these reactions occur, and the more quickly the wine will age.

Next most important is humidity, which specifically relates to wines bottled under cork, which many age worthy wines are. Low humidity or dry air can cause the cork to dry out and shrink away from the neck of the bottle allowing air to leak inside and oxidise the wine. This may happen even if the wine is correctly stored on its side, as the dryness begins from the outer exposed section of the cork. The recommended humidity range to prevent this occuring is between 65 and 75%. Humidity in excess of 80% can lead to mould developing on the bottles and labels peeling off.

Although it may be pleasing on the eye to have all of your treasured wine collection on display for all to see, it won’t do the wines themselves any favours. Like temperature, exposure to ultra violet light develops hydrogen sulphides and speeds up the chemical reactions associated with wine aging, thereby resulting in a prematurely advanced wine. White and sparkling wines are particularly susceptible, especially as many are bottled in clear or light glass.

Other factors in consider in your cellar include movement, human or otherwise around your cellar. Vibrations again speed up the reactions leading to aging, so it is best to cellar your wines in an area of your home or property where they will be undisturbed. Don’t forget the impact pests and insects can have on your wines. Aside from damaging corks and labels they can leave unpleasant aromas on your bottles which can be extremely difficult to remove.

Once you’ve got your cellar conditions right you can’t just forget about the sleeping babies inside. Keeping and maintaining records of your wine cellar is important in ensuring each bottle is drunk as close to its optimum time as possible. Researching your wines, understanding the varieties and regions, keeping tasting notes are just a few techniques to keeping on top of where your wines are up to. Buying several bottles of an age worthy wine enables you to sample a bottle at progressive points throughout the cellaring time, watching the wine develop. When you sense a wine is nearing or at its peak, you are then able to plan to consume that wine before it begins its decline. We’ve all been in the position of opening a bottle of cellared wine with much anticipation only to discover it’s so far past its best that it’s undrinkable.

Following these cellaring tips will help you Casino Dkaplan keep your wines in tip top shape so you can relax and feel confident that the next time you pull a special wine from your collection, your patience (and hard work) will be rewarded.