Summer came early this year and the forecast calls for an extra hot one. Its great news for beach lovers but bad news for wine!
Here are 6 steps you can take to insure your summer batch stays tasty and ages to perfection:
1. Keep It Cool…. Ideally 12°C
|Very few homes come with a built in vaulted ceiling wine cellar these days|
Heat is wine’s number 1 enemy. Temperatures higher than 22° C will age a wine more quickly than is usually desirable… And if it gets too much hotter, your wine may get “cooked,” resulting in flat aromas and flavours. This means never leaving your wine in your vehicle while parked in the sun! Get your batch to a cool area as soon as you can after bottling.
2. ….But Not Too Cool
Keeping wines in your fridge is fine for up to a month or so, but it’s not a good bet for the longer term. The average fridge temp falls well below 6° C to safely store perishable foods, and the lack of moisture could eventually dry out corks. Dry corks allow air to seep into the bottles and damage the wine. Also, don’t keep your wine somewhere it could freeze (an unheated garage in winter, forgotten for hours in the freezer). If the liquid starts turning to ice, it could expand enough to push the cork out.
3. Steady as She Goes
More important than worrying about achieving a perfect 12°C is avoiding the landmines of rapid, extreme or frequent temperature swings. On top of cooked flavours, the expansion and contraction of the liquid inside the bottle might push the cork out or cause seepage. Aim for consistency, but don’t get paranoid about minor temperature fluctuations.
4. Turn the Lights Off
Light, especially sunlight, can pose a potential problem for long-term storage. The sun’s UV rays can degrade and prematurely age wine. One of the reasons why vintners use colored glass bottles? They’re like sunglasses for wine.
5. Don’t Sweat the Humidity
Conventional wisdom says that wines should be stored at an ideal humidity level of 70 percent. The theory goes that dry air will dry out the corks, which would let air into the bottle and spoil the wine. Yes, this does happen, but unless you live in a desert or in arctic conditions, it probably won’t happen to you.
6. See Things Sideways
Traditionally, bottles have been stored on their sides in order to keep the liquid up against the cork, which theoretically should keep the cork from drying out. If you’re planning on drinking these bottles in the near- to mid-term this is not necessary (less than a month). We will say this, however: Horizontal racking is a space-efficient way to store your bottles, and it definitely can’t harm your wines.
So Where Should I Keep My Bottles?
If you haven’t been blessed with a cool, not-too-damp basement that can double as a cellar, you can improvise with some simple racks in a safe place. Rule out your kitchen, laundry room or boiler room, where hot temperatures could affect your wines, and look for a location not directly in line with light pouring in from a window. You could also buy a small wine cooler and follow the same guidelines: If you keep your wine fridge in a cool place, it won’t have to work so hard, keeping your energy bill down.
One other piece of advice from collectors: Whatever number you’re thinking of when it comes to bottle capacity, double it. Once you’ve started accumulating wines to drink later, it’s hard to stop.
Source: Cork it Blog