Wine storage, fridges and chillers
To store wine correctly is definitely a fine art of sorts. Specific holding temperatures and exact humidity levels have to be carefully maintained, and the wine protected from harmful sunlight, vibrations and even unnecessary handling. Thankfully all this can be achieved without descending a gloomy winding staircase to some distant cellar.
There are plenty of options available today to recreate the best conditions for storing wine. Whether you want to keep a selection of bottles close to hand and at a temperature ready to serve, or whether you are looking to preserve and mature a larger collection, we can point you in the right direction for a solution.
Any wine benefits from proper storage, whether it’s purchased for easy sundowner quaffing or whether it is bought for putting down to be enjoyed at its best sometime in the future. Temperature controlled wine coolers/fridges/cabinets are available in a variety of sizes, styles and at a price to suit all budgets. Speak to someone who knows the pro’s and con’s of the different units available in the market.
Ready to serve
Serving a wine – especially white – at optimum temperature isn’t about chilling it to within an inch of its life. The recommended serving temperatures bring out the best aromas, bouquet and taste in the glass. There are a number of wine chillers designed to keep your wine at the optimum temperature for serving. These are often “dual” temperature units with separate compartments for chilling white wine and bubbly, and for keeping red wine at maturation or serving temperature.
To store and protect
For longer term preservation, the correct maturing of wine is governed by various criteria, all of which must be fully controlled if the conditions of ageing are to be ideal.
Contrary to what most people think, ALL wine – and that includes champagne, white, rosé, red, dessert, and fortified wines – should be stored at the same temperature to maximize their longevity and potential. In fact, storing your champagne and white wine permanently in chilled conditions can harm the wine, preventing it from its natural evolvement. These wines should only be chilled for shorter periods of time prior to serving.
The correct preservation temperature is widely agreed to be around 12° C, which is the temperature experienced in natural cellar conditions underground.
Too low a temperature slows the development of the wine, while too high a temperature ages wine prematurely. Of equal threat are temperature fluctuations and temperature extremes.
Light, and its ultraviolet component in particular, quickly damages wine by its irreversible oxidation of the tannins. Glass doors are specially treated to enable them to filter out the UV.
Maintaining a particular level of humidity between 60 and 70% is essential if corks are to retain their sealing capability. Natural ventilation allows condensation to form on the aluminium inside walls of the cabinet, producing the correct humidity for the preservation of the corks, and hence the wines.
The quality of the surrounding air and the rate of its renewal is decisive for wine. Inadequate ventilation, particularly in a moist environment, is liable to allow mould to develop.
Vibrations interfere with the slow biochemical process and are often fatal to the best wines. Quality compressors are carefully selected for their perfect balance and are mounted on an independent support. All trays are mounted on rubber blocks to eliminate any remaining vibration.
The question of layout is too often neglected but should receive careful consideration in order to precisely meet the requirements of wine storage. Make sure you have the best use of space to store all types of bottles, taking into account length of storage time, easy wine identification and individual bottle accessibility.
Remember that the cost and value of the wine you are buying will increase over time. Current vintages are far more affordable now than compared with their value in a few years time when they are at their optimum. The investment made in a medium or high capacity wine maturation cabinet can easily be offset in the future value and enjoyment of your wine.
More on wine storage:
Once you open a wine bottle, and allow it to become oxidized, the liquid inside will inevitably start to ferment. This is the process which causes wine to ‘go off’, and become undrinkable. The best way to prevent this is to use a wine stopper in place of the cork, and also to purchase a wine fridge. The latter is only really necessary if you intend to have a number of bottles open at the same time, as it will allow you to store these correctly and prevent you from losing a lot of money through having to discard fermented wine.
Another good reason to have a wine fridge or wine chiller is that they can influence the final taste of the wine. It is important to realise that the actual flavour of wine will change depending upon different temperatures, and it is usually best served slightly chilled. Wine is usually kept in cold cellars before it is sold, and so keeping the wine cold is helping to replicate its flavour at the moment that it was distilled. Although wine which is too deeply chilled will often lose its most delicate flavours, with a specially designed wine fridge you can keep it at the perfect temperature, and experience all the flavour that a good bottle of wine has to offer.
If you want to have a wine fridge or chiller for your own personal use, then you should consider a number of different factors which can affect whether you enjoy your wine or not. For example, where you want to install the fridge or chiller will affect whether you purchase a free-standing or even a small counter-top wine fridge. You should also look at ones which have different temperatures in different parts of the fridge, as different types of wine are usually best stored at slightly different temperatures.
You may also wish to consider providing a lock for the fridge. This is necessary if you have small children, or underage juniors, in the house on a regular basis. Keeping minors away from alcohol by using a lock is a good idea, and it can also help to keep the temperature in your fridge constant. Some wine fridges also come with glazed areas, which should be tinted in order to prevent UV light affecting the oxidization of the wine, and ensuring that the inside of your fridge resembled the darkened cellar where the wine was originally produced.
You will also have to learn the important differences between wine fridges and wine chillers. A chiller is usually best used after the wine has already been chilled, and is there, essentially, to ensure that the wine does not gain temperature after it has been removed from the fridge. Many people simply put their wine into buckets of ice, but this can lower the temperature dramatically and rob the wine of subtle flavours. A wine fridge is intended for the long-term storage of wine, where the liquid can be kept for weeks or months without being affected.