What factors affect the conservation of wine ?
To take full advantage of the bouquet of a mature wine and its slowly evolved aromas, the cellaring conditions are of crucial importance: temperature, humidity, light or vibration are all factors to watch for.
Does wine benefit from cellaring ?
Generally speaking, the graphed potential of a cellared wine resembles a bell curve:wine quality improves over the first few years, reaches its pinnacle, and then gradually decreases in value.
Which wines are to be cellared and which ones should be enjoyed young ?
The profile of a wine that benefits from cellaring is variable depending on the type of wine and depending on the vintage. Generally speaking, it is estimated that more a wine is opulent, the longer it may be cellared. With few exceptions,cellaring tends to impair frail wines.
An example of such a case ?
In cool and rainy years (1992 Bordeaux vintage), the wine is lean and has a low potential for preservation, its maturing aptitude low and its evolution quick.
What is the impact of moisture ?
Humidity has an effect on the conservation the cork. Too little, and a small cork risks dehydration, leading to a “leaky” bottle (a shrunken cork buries itself in the neck and the wine evaporates and oxidizes). Too much, and mold may develop on the visible part of the cork (this does not, however, endanger the wine in any way, but does degrade the label, which quickly becomes unreadable). Ideal conditions involve a humidity of 70 to 75% .
What is the impact of light ?
The light should be as dim as possible. Although the bottles filter most UV rays, it is believed that wine stores better in darkened areas. As an added benefit, the charm of a dark cave which contains hidden treasures is unparalleled !
What is the impact of vibrations ?
If possible, avoid an unnecessary vibrations and handling that will rouse sediment (or wine crystals) and cause an astringency that distorts the quality of the wine. One should make an effort to not disturb cellared bottles.
Some miscellaneous advice ?
- Always store bottles horizontally (except for spirits which could slowly dissolve their own cap !)