Protecting Wines

 

Protecting Your Wine Investment

Since wine is a natural product, it is perishable and will go bad over time.

Proper wine storage is critical for preserving and aging wines.  The negative effects of improper storage cannot be avoided. Over time, poor storage will always have an effect on the wine’s flavor and bouquet. Sometimes the difference is subtle and at other times it can be very pronounced.

Age-worthy wines may degrade in less than a year if not properly maintained. “Ready to drink” wines are best when consumed in a timeframe that can be measured in terms of months, and less when stored in conditions of undue stress.

Actual storage requirements are dependent on the type of wine. Fine, age-worthy wines that will be stored for a number of years requires much stricter environmental control than a bottle of “ready to drink” wine.

There are a number of important storage criteria that must be considered when preserving and aging fine wines:

  • Temperature & Temperature Stability
  • Humidity
  • Light
  • Security

Proper Wine Storage – Temperature & Temperature Stability

Wine is susceptible to changes taking place in the environment, particularly temperature. Bottles stored at higher than proper cellar temperatures will always be inferior to a bottle stored at the correct temperature and potentially damage the wine. Wines stored at temperatures higher than the acceptable range will experience acceleration in aging. Alternately, wines stored at very low temperatures will age much slower.

Wine must be kept in an environment where temperature is constant and stable. Temperature stability is one of the most important storage requirements, and is one of the hardest to achieve. Even a temperature controlled wine cabinet or wine cellar, or an off-site storage provider is most likely not maintaining temperature within an acceptable range as temperature fluctuation over any given period of time is not being closely monitored. Wine that has been exposed to repeated changes in temperature will be adversely affected and possibly spoiled.

The following is the recommended temperature criteria for proper wine storage:

  • Acceptable temperature range: 45°-65° F
  • Ideal temperature range: 52°F to 58°F
  • Acceptable temperature fluctuation: +/- 4°-5° F  average once per year

Proper Wine Storage – Humidity & Light

Just like wine, cork is a natural product and will be adversely affected if exposed to undesirable environmental conditions over a period of time. The top of the cork will still dry out, shrink or crack even when the bottle is placed on its side if the humidity level is too dry. This may allow more air to come into contact with the wine and possibly cause spoilage. Higher humidity levels will help keep the cork from drying out, but when levels are higher than the acceptable range, there is a risk of mold or mildew forming on the cork and wine label.

The following is the recommended humidity criteria for proper wine storage:

  • Acceptable humidity range: 50%-80% RH
  • Ideal humidity range: 60%-75% RH

Wine should not be exposed to direct sunlight or excessive amounts of light. Light affects the components of the wine that are responsible for creating the unique flavors and bouquet in properly aged wines.

Proper Wine Storage – Security

In protecting your wine investment, security must also be considered. Security of your wine can be categorized as loss or damage due to theft or equipment failure.

Wine collections are most susceptible to loss or damage due to equipment failure. If something malfunctions, the storage cabinet or wine cellar is down until the problem is fixed and thus the temperature fluctuations start. Worse yet, something could go wrong while the owner is away. Monitoring of the storage conditions with real-time alerts and notifications is certainly an important consideration.

Monitoring wine movement or impact could also assist with alerting the owner of theft or tampering.