Those who appreciate drinking wine know this: never risk going without, and have that little bit of room to set aside slightly rarer gems, to appreciate their potential after waiting a while.
Here, then, is how storing bottles in the right way can save us from nasty surprises when uncorking that label of which we have high expectations, and which may have been sleeping in the cellar for months waiting for the right opportunity to be enjoyed.
So, the question that arises is “how do you store wines?” Here are a few tips that might help you in case your know-how is a little low.
A little trivial premise
I suppose I am about to state something extremely obvious, but it is always good to say: wine is made to be drunk and is a living thing, so once it reaches its evolution curve, it will tend to decay.
Of course, great wines can benefit from a long rest in the cellar (if done properly, following the tips below) as the right conditions promote their evolution, but don’t forget them there.
On what does a wine’s longevity depend?
The longevity of a wine is closely linked to some of its intrinsic characteristics (the grape variety) and is determined by the presence of substances that promote it, such as acids, tannins (rich antioxidant properties), minerals and sugars.
Winemaking and aging techniques also play a key role.
For example, a wine with good tannicity, therefore aged in wooden barrels, will tend to keep longer than a younger wine with low acidity aged in steel.
It is therefore very important to know the aging capacity of the bottles you wish to collect, so you can determine the best time to enjoy them, without fear of running into unpleasant surprises.
In case you need some tips, I can give you some quick suggestions, using wines from our area as examples.
Let’s start with the greats. Barolo or Barbaresco can age in the bottle around ten to fifteen years from the date of bottling, but if we are talking about very good vintages, the period can extend up to twenty-five years.
Turning to whites, such as Arneis to name one, the ideal is to consume them within the year.
For bubbles, you always have to consider the method of winemaking: if produced in an autoclave, the sooner you drink it, the better. On the other hand, if we are talking about classic method, the date of disgorgement counts: from this you can wait six months, a year at most.
Now we can get down to the practical!
The ideal environment
Maintaining the quality of wines is related to many factors, including light, temperature, humidity, vibration, and odors.
To figure out if your wine cellar is the right space for your bottles to be placed, here are summarized five simple little rules.
The storage environment should have a relative humidity between 65% and 75%.
It should be medium-low (12-15°C) and constant (it is best to avoid temperature changes).
Bottles must be protected from UV light.
The place you choose must be free of strong, lingering odors.
The environment should not be subjected to intense and repeated vibration.
These ideal requirements, if met, promote an improvement in wine maturation.
Perfect, but how do I arrange the bottles?
Having verified the environmental conditions, it is time to move on to the actual organization of the cellar.
If you have the possibility, wooden shelves are ideal. This material dampens any vibrations and being an excellent thermal insulator helps keep the temperature constant.
Place the bottles horizontally, on clean shelves, and place them from bottom to top following this meticulous order: sparkling wines, whites, rosés, and reds (young and evolved).
Now it’s your turn
The information I have provided is a good starting point for safeguarding “your treasure.” If you care to elaborate, Lorenzo Tablino, our trusted winemaker, has written extensively on this topic (Italian content only).
All you have to do is roll up your sleeves and start tidying up your basement!