The process of ageing wine is a form of culinary art. One walks a fine line between ruining the wine or enhancing it. The rewards of patience are real, and the pleasure of sharing fine aged wine always makes the wait worthwhile, but if aged under the wrong conditions, your wine will become undrinkable: the main issue is that over time, the ethanol in your wine will oxidise and turn into acetic acid, more commonly referred to as vinegar.
Even without this occurring, storing your wine in an area that is too hot for instance, will speed up the break down of acidity and tannins and alter flavours to the point where the wine will lose all its charm.
On the contrary, the correct storage conditions slow down oxidation and allow the gentle natural chemical reactions between the wine’s tannins, sugars, acids and ethanol to subtly change the wine over time.
Building the ideal cellar: avoid the 3 main pitfalls
Historically this is about the average temperature of the great European cellars.
Temperatures much lower than this (under 10°) will excessively stunt maturation while those higher than this (above 16°) will prematurely age the wine, and not in a nice way: high 20°s will ruin a wine within days and anything near zero is very bad. Keeping the ambient temperature relatively stable is also extremely important. Ideally you want to keep the fluctuations under +/-2°C per day
Levels lower than this can cause the corks to dry out and shrink, allowing air into the bottle and causing oxidation.
Environments with a humidity level much greater than 75% will cause labels to peel, cartons to rot and bottles to develop mould. This will usually not affect the wine’s taste if corks are intact are airtight, but will definitely put a dent in potential resale value.
Light should be avoided, most especially sunlight, as UV light causes hydrogen sulfide compounds in wine and affects the tannins and color of the wine. A wine room certainly should not have any windows, and preferably it should be dark most of the time.
For more information and an easy step-by-step guide to choosing the right
wine cabinet for your needs, check out our ‘Vintec Wine Cabinet Buying Guide‘ (PDF, free download):
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