Wine has been appreciated by many different cultures throughout history. The Greeks are believed to be the first to appreciate keeping wine for ageing. Through the combination of good storage vessels and the high natural sugar content in the wine they were able to keep wines for up to 10 years. The Romans were also known to store wine for consumption at a later date. Here in the United Kingdom the storing of wine became popular around the Eighteenth Century, although it was only the very rich who could possibly afford to do so.
Keeping wine at home in a storage rack or cellar is no longer the preserve of royalty and the rich. Anyone can have a small store of wine at home. Its just a question of deciding how much you want to keep and what available space you have to store it in.
Storing Wine At Home
If you are going to store wine at home you need to ensure that the spot you choose has the necessary requirements to be a suitable place for keeping wine safe and secure. The essential elements to consider are Temperature, Humidity, Light, Vibration and Security.
There is quite a wide band of temperatures within which wine can be stored safely. The ideal temperature for storing wines is eleven degrees centigrade; although anywhere between nine and fifteen can be considered suitable. The biggest factor to consider with temperature is dramatic temperature change. If your storage zone is subject to considerable fluctuations between day/night and summer/winter temperatures then you are likely to spoil your wine. Wine is ideally stored in an environment where the daily temperature changes by no more than a couple of degrees centigrade between night and day and by no more than 5-6 between winter and summer.
A small degree of humidity is considered essential to prevent the exposed end of the cork from drying out in the bottle. If allowed to dry out the cork may lose its ability to prevent the wine from oxidising by allowing oxygen in. The ideal level of humidity is reckoned to be about 70% Total Humidity. Any lower and you run the risk of allowing the cork to dry out completely. Be careful though not to allow your cellar to get too humid as this will encourage damp, which although it won’t adversely affect the wine it will cause the labels to rot. This may lead you to opening bottles of wine without knowing what they actually are and drinking your best vintage wine with a pizza on a wet Tuesday evening.
One essential aspect of keeping wine is to avoid exposing it to strong or direct light; this includes both sunlight and artificial light. The darker the conditions the better, particularly for white wines in clear bottles which are at most risk from over exposure. Light will heat the wine inside the bottle and if the temperature within the bottle reaches over 25 degrees centigrade then the wine will spoil and be unfit for the cooking pot let alone your wine glass.
This is not greatly important, as light vibration will cause no real adverse effects to most wines. However, if the wines you are storing are prone to throw a sediment then you may wish to avoid disturbing the wine as any movement of the sediment may affect the balanced ageing process of the wine. Therefore, a wine rack in the kitchen on top of the washing machine or dishwasher is not the ideal place to store your prized wine collection.
Wine is worth money and to some people wine cellars and stores represent some very easy to steal “Liquid Assets”. Be careful where you store your wine. Garages, garden sheds and cellars with unlocked access are easy prey for the opportunist thief.
It is also essential to store your wine away from any strong odours and any chemicals or other materials that may seep into the surrounding air and taint the wines quality and flavour.