How do you store your grape investments in optimal conditions without compromising quality and age-ability, and not break the bank? While the vast majority of wines are approachable at a young age, wines from exceptional vintages and regions made by highly renowned producers are best when cellared for many decades. As the wine ages, flavors and aromas evolve that are not often available in young wines. These ageable gems are highly sought-after by oenophiles around the world, as our taste buds search for rewarding and complex flavors.
The Perfect Temperature
To receive the best payoff from your investment, it is crucial to ensure your storage room or cellar is cool- but not too cool. The ideal temperature should be between 55-59° Fahrenheit, no warmer, no cooler. In environments that are too cold, such as a refrigerator, moisture is typically lower, which can dry out your corks and disrupt the seal. On the flip side, the ultimate enemy of wine is heat. The wine will age faster in higher temperatures, and if it becomes “cooked,” flavors and aromas will become flat. Although a couple of degrees for a short period isn’t a cause for concern, temperatures above 70 degrees for extended periods will hurt the lasting ability of your wines.
The Darker The Better
A critical component of ideal storage is to make sure you keep your wine away from bright light. UV light can age wines and labels prematurely. A primary reason you see wine bottles with a tint is to protect the juice inside from those harmful UV rays! The darker the room, the better.
Many cellar experts will recommend your humidity level to be around 70 percent. If humidity conditions are too high, corks may become saturated, eventually loosening their position. High humidity can indeed be a recipe for disaster, promoting the growth of mold and exposing the consumer to potential health concerns. On the other hand, low humidity causes the cork to be dry and could potentially spoil the wine.
Placement, Placement, Placement
The position that we decide to store our wines also plays a significant role in their development over time. It is best to store a cork-topped bottle of wine on its side, keeping the inner liquids in contact with the cork. Ensuring that your wine is aging in an ideal position helps to prevent the cork from drying out and keeps your wine safe from premature oxidation. A careful placement also helps to keep age-caused sediment from interrupting your overall drinking experience. It is ubiquitous for an older wine to generate sediment naturally. However, it does not always result in the most pleasant drinking experience. We recommend keeping these wines in a safe, horizontal position to prevent any potentially gritty glasses of wine!
So how do you achieve such specific storage techniques without depleting your savings account? Benchmark recommends an environment that is downstairs, preferably underground, without any windows. A basement or storage space is the perfect place to ensure your wines’ age-ability while saving a pretty penny on keeping your room cool. While it is safe to store in these conditions, we do consider the eventual addition of an air cooling unit and a humidifier to make certain extreme conditions don’t affect your treasures. Happy collecting!
If you are looking for more vintage and cellar-worthy wines, check out Benchmark Wine Group’s #1 selection in the U.S for back-vintage wines!