Wine Cellar Basics 101…Part I

Published July 20, 2012

Everywhere you turn it seems the buzz is all about wine. Wine cellars, wine shops, wine tasting and of course, wine drinking.  If you find yourself becoming interested in wine and the possibility of building up your own reserves, you may want to keep the following tips from local wine supplier, Dundarave Wine Cellars in mind.


Wine Storage

There are many ways to store a wine collection. The quest is to locate the perfect spot in terms of temperature, light, vibration, humidity, and lack of any chemical penetration. The alternative is to purchase a wine fridge.

If you choose to go the former route, here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Firstly, temperature of the location is crucial. It’s important to keep your wine cool (10-16 degrees Celsius). Keep the temperature constant and avoid any drastic shifts in the room’s temperature whenever possible.

Light is also another important factor to consider. The reality is that wine does not like light of any kind. Over time, light is a contributing factor in the premature ageing of the wine and this is something you do not want.

Consider the humidity of the room as well. Ideally, humidity should be between 70- 95%. Anything above the 95% will allow mold to form and this will be a problem over time.

Lastly, the room should be free of any chemical aromas. A closet or garage may seem to be ideal for wine storage because they tend to be cool and dark spots, but these sites often harbor strong aromas that may penetrate the corks of your wine over time and cause spoilage.

If you choose a wine fridge as a storage alternative, here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you are out shopping. Vibration caused by the fridge’s compressor is a potential problem. The less expensive wine fridges tend to not have vibration dampening and therefore your wine is constantly being shaken by this compressor. Secondly, if you choose a wine fridge with a glass door for display, make sure the glass is UV protected. The wine should be protected from any UV rays. Many fridges do not actually control humidity. You can solve this problem by placing a damp cloth (or a sponge in a bowl similar to cigar humidor) in the unit and replace it regularly.


Types of Wine to Age

Believe it or not, not all wine is meant for long-term ageing. In fact, most wines will not dramatically improve with age. What’s important is to learn and discover what you like! Perhaps you enjoy the youthful fruit, intense oak and full-bodied tannins of a wine? If that’s the case it’s important to note that these elements will become more subdued with time and therefore holding onto a wine to watch these elements fade would be a mistake. Despite the popularity of Merlot these days, if you are not a Merlot fan chances are you probably will not enjoy an aged Merlot any better. Try out many different types of wine and figure out what it is you like before you start a cellar. Fill your cellar with the wines you like with a few careful suggestions from a good wine store consultant. Over time you can experiment somewhat and add a little spice and surprise down the road.

Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with “young” wines.  Over the years many people have developed a taste for young wines. There are two different categories of young wines: the first is what people in the wine field describe as “approachable” and can be made to drink young. The second is what winemakers are producing in a “drink now” style that will do very little in terms of improving with age. It’s best to consult your local wine store and ask for assistance in differentiating between the two.

For more information, contact Dundarave Wine Cellars, West Vancouver.

Next week:  Ageing wines and Building Your Collection