How to store wine at home: your cellar

Store wine at home or not to store. This is the question.

Firstly, let us keep in mind that not all wines are meant to be stored for a long time. Furthermore, storing wine correctly is by no means a simple thing.
Let us start with the bottle format. This is a kind of indicator of the potential of wine to improve over time.
In terms of quality, the large bottle allows a better conservation of the wine.
It is therefore no coincidence that the best vintages are stored in large bottles. This also happens for the best wines of a certain vintage.

Defending wine from its enemy.

You may know that wine has a bitter enemy, the oxygen. Or rather a too high percentage of oxygen causes the deterioration of the wine.
On the contrary, a measured micro-aeration contributes to the evolution of the wine.
This is the reason why proper storage is particularly important.
Is the bottle, therefore, a good container for storing wine?
Yes, but not just to keep it. Wine is a living compound, which changes over time, as it is said to evolve.
The positive evolution of the wine corresponds to what we call aging.
Refinement can take place in various conditions and in many different containers. However, in the bottle the wine continues to change.

The fundamental role of the cap.

Usually made of cork, the cork is a fundamental part of the bottle. Preserving wine correctly depends in an extremely high percentage on this small object.
How many times has it happened to us, to open a bottle and after smelling the cork, the expert exclaims “It tastes like cork”!
A terrible moment, of great disappointment for the diners.
When this happens in the restaurant, never mind, the bottle will be replaced.
But at home, drinking will inevitably be compromised.

What does it mean and why?

The cork stopper was a brilliant idea. It allows you to store wine inside the container. At the same time, it allows the exploitation of a micro aeration, useful for refinement.
Unfortunately, however, some caps can be affected by microorganisms.
These mushrooms, mostly in an environment almost completely devoid of oxygen and in contact with the humidity of the wine, can proliferate.
The presence of the fungus can therefore damage the wine, transferring unpleasant scents and flavours.
Secondly, improper storage could damage the seal of the cap. Even if healthy, the cork may lose volume, allowing air to enter.
Attempts have been made to overcome this problem by using other materials, but cork is still the preferred.
Above all to preserve and let the finest wine evolve.

How do you know if the wine tastes like corked?

For this it takes a little practice, however, anyone can do it. Just pay attention to the cap when uncorking a bottle.
Like? Just by smelling the cork.
Scents distant from the wine, such as cellar smell, or mold, wet cardboard, could indicate that the wine has deteriorated. Consequently, it will also be necessary to verify it on the palate. Because the cork is made of cork.
As you know, the classic cork is made of cork, a particular wood that is obtained from oak.
The plant is a variety of African origin that has become Mediterranean for millennia.
This material guarantees important characteristics useful for the purpose.
Firstly, it is elastic and allows it to adhere to the neck of the bottle.
Secondly, it is waterproof and hermetic. Able to prevent oxygen from filtering almost completely. Moreover, thanks to its ductility, it is easy to shape.
In conclusion it is light, so it does not affect the overall weight of the bottle.

The types of caps.

You may have noticed, opening the bottles, that cork is not the only material used. Also, not all corks are identical.
In fact, there are at least 7 different types of cork to produce wine corks.
The most common is one-piece natural cork. This is the most expensive but also the best, suitable for long aging.
Less quality corkes comes by assembling different pieces glued with a food glue.
The shapes and sizes also vary. For example, the champagne cork has a different shape. Designed to withstand the pressure caused by the gas inside the bottle.
Some corks have a part of cork and part of a different material. This often happens in liquor bottles, and they are useful for opening and closing the bottle several times.

Other types of caps….

In addition to the above, there are other types of caps, silicone, plastic, crown, screw also named stelvin.
There is a common misconception about the stelvin cork. It is not always synonymous with supermarket wine. In countries like New Zealand and some European countries it is even the most common cork.
Firstly, it solves one of the main problems of the cork stopper. Avoiding the presence of that famous mushroom that ruins our wine.
Glass stoppers have also been tried, but they are expensive and impractical.
Ultimately the cork stopper continues to be the favourite and the most used.

How to store wine.

The best way to make wine spoil inside the bottle is to store it badly.
We need to take care of the bottles. A first step is to consider the position of the bottle.
Bottles must always be stored horizontally. In this way, the cork will remain in contact with the wine and will be kept moist.
In fact, if the cork gets too dry, it will suffer a physiological decrease in volume and could not adhere to the neck of the bottle. This could allow air to enter and spoil the wine.
It is also good practice to rotate the bottles on themselves from time to time.

The temperature for a cellar.

To keep wine perfectly, an air-conditioned cellar is required. Or a place that is not subject to changes in temperature, especially sudden ones.
Since it does not apply equally to all types of wines, the optimal temperature average in a cellar is 15-16 degrees. A humidity of at least 60% and good ventilation are required.
Dark rooms should be preferred, which is why the wine coolers also have a glass shielding against UV rays. Some are equipped with an internal LED light.

Oooops, my grandfather’s Barolo!

Now I know that some of you are looking horrified at your grandfather’s bottle of Barolo. For forty years it has been dominating the top of the kitchen cabinet in an upright position.
Have you waited for the chance of life to open it? Is the wine gone?
It is not said one hundred percent.
Check the bottle, the level of the wine that must be in the neck. See if there are no liquid leaks. If the kitchen has been in operation a lot and the humidity in the room kept high, you may have been miraculous.
Otherwise, keep it as a souvenir.

When is the right moment to open a bottle?

When we want to drink it, surely, but certainly some small precautions must be taken.
It is better to open a bottle too early than too late.
Why? Wine is something alive that develops following its evolutionary curve.
Compared to the person’s life, the best moment is his maturity.
Like a child who grows, matures, declines, and then follows his destiny, wine experiences phases of change, from youth to maturity.
So, afterwards there is the loss of aromas, of the balance of all the pleasant sensations of the wine itself.
Otherwise , in a more romantic approach, we could think wine going through its fragile age.

An act of hope and optimism …

A New York Times reporter Asimov once wrote: Aging wine is an act of hope and optimism, laced with fear and dread.
Anyone who has a nice bottle of wine to keep at home knows what this fear refers to.
The best thing is to read up on the vintages and know the producer’s philosophy. That is, if he works to create wines for aging.
If you had a cellar available, it would be interesting to keep a case of wine from the same vintage. To then taste it at different times and appreciate its evolution.
In conclusion, better uncork first than ever, cheers!