How to store your Wine?
Storage for maturation is an important issue for every wine lover.
It is necessary to think about it because it is usually impossible or at least very expensive to buy wines ready to drink. Therefore, you will buy wines usually relatively soon after bottling and store yourself until the optimal drinking maturity is reached. So I’m not talking about storage over several weeks, but over years or decades.
In the literature and among wine friends it is talked about the optimal storage temperature. However, we believe this is relatively unimportant as long as a range of 8 degrees to about 18 or even 20 degrees is maintained.
Much more problematic than the absolute temperature, are the temperature fluctuations. The temperature of the storage room should be as constant as possible.
Distinction between day/night fluctuations and seasonal fluctuations. That should not occur or at least be very largely minimized. Seasonal fluctuations are reasonably acceptable (5 degrees or more).
At most important is the humidity. A sufficiently high humidity is necessary so that the corks remain elastic and reliably sealed with the bottle in the long term. The humidity in normal modern basements or apartments is not enough.
Shocks & Vibrations
The wines should be stored free from shocks and vibrations. That is a reason why a conventional refrigerator is not the optimal storage location.
The bottles must be stored in pitch dark location. Cover if necessary!
What can be done to achieve these storage conditions?
If you are fortunate enough to have an old cellar that is thermally shielded from the outside world to the extent that at least the day / night fluctuations are largely prevented, you’re in luck. Old cellars are usually damp and that’s good for our wine.
Those who do not have this luck, can manage with electric wine cabinets. The following manufacturers can be recommended:
Vestfrost (scandinavian manufacturer)
These cabinets do ensure vibration-free storage, sufficient humidity and a stable temperature. But whoever thinks about making a wine cellar to store his wines, should consider how many cabinets you need for 500 to 1,500 bottles (that’s a normal size for a wine lover), and with what investment costs and current electricity costs also Costs associated. A structural change or renting an external basement is often the better solution.
Another alternative is the air conditioning of a complete basement room with cold room doors or cold cells. Further information can be found at company Günther.
Even closing the cellar window with insulating material or, if necessary, insulating “warm” walls can significantly reduce temperature fluctuations. The humidity can be increased by damp cloths or a tub of wet hydroponic stones.
Incidentally, a conventional refrigerator is unsuitable because it has too many vibrations and regular temperature fluctuations for technical reasons. Both are permanently harmful to the wine.
If that’s not too much hassle, you can make an extra seal on the bottle by covering the top of the bottle with document sealing wax. So then the closure is gas-tight and even with aging corks, etc. air exchange can not take place. Another advantage: This treatment also protects against the dreaded cork moth.
Standing or lying?
Wine bottles should be stored lying down. This ensures that the cork stays wet from the inside. However, I do not want to conceal that there are now studies that suggest a sufficient storage at sufficient humidity. but we trust more in the conservative (old school) opinion.
Even with champagne opinions differ. Champagne is often stored standing as well as sherry, port and Madeira. This is based on the fact that carbonic acid (with sparkling wines) or high alcohol contents could damage the cork.
When is a wine ready for drinking?
Actually, the answer to this question is very simple: if it tastes good!
For us, there is nothing more exciting than a wine that we use, for example. Bought 12 bottles to “observe” over several years, every now and then open a bottle, to taste and to experience the increasing maturity of the wine.
But not every wine has several bottles. Many people find it a shame to open a wine “too early” and thereby deprive oneself of the pleasure of drinking the wine in the “right moment”.
But when is this “right moment”? That depends on your own taste. Many wine drinkers like the young, primarily fruity wines, which are still wild on the palate, make the tongue furry and where you can feel the acid even more clearly. Others love the mature wines, with complex nose, balanced gentle taste. Everyone has to make their own experiences and develop their own taste. And you have to develop a sense of whether a wine does not taste because it is still too young, or if it is just a bad or even faulty wine.
A young wine is young and impetuous. The individual components (acid, tannins, possibly wood notes) are still there “next to each other”, each component is there for itself and identifiable. The acid (who does not know how acid tastes, should go to the pharmacy and buy vitamin C powder and dissolve in different dosages in water – a very healthy attempt) can be intrusive and disturbing. This also applies to the tannin. Everyone knows this furry feeling on the tongue, which is produced by young red wines. That’s the tannin! In addition, a young wine has a clear, strong as possible fruit. This is called the primary fruit. This fruitiness in young wines is most likely reminiscent of fresh fruit, later the fruit is rather more discreet and does not emerge so clearly.
At some point, a wine starts to lose its primary fruitiness. It is often said “The wine begins to close”. It means that the wine is really unattractive. On the one hand hardly noticeable fruit, but still clear and not necessarily pleasant tannins and acidity. At this stage a wine is not fun.
When it opens again it will be exciting. The nose develops complex, very diverse aromas. The fruit comes again. However, not so clear and independent, but integrated into many other flavors that were not even to be guessed at the young wine. The color turns golden yellow (for white wine) or reddish brown (for red wines), the earliest on the edge of the glass. On the palate, acid and tannins have “married” with the wine. The wine looks rounder, more elegant – just more mature.
This phase lasts as long as possible. With increasing maturity, the wine turns brown, in the nose creates a peculiar one-dimensional age tone. The fruit disintegrates, is barely noticeable. At some point, the wine also breaks down in the glass. The ingredients dissolve, the wine becomes cloudy and the ingredients fall to the ground. Now the wine is no fun anymore. Dumping is announced.
We would like to emphasize that we naturally describe here an ideal aging process, which is found in this form only with high-quality wines. A wine that has no acidity, no tannins, no texture from the start will never age. Most of the world’s wines want to be drunk in the first year after bottling!
Take a good wine, pour it into three different glasses and taste the wine. You will soon realize how incredibly large the influence of the glass is on the taste experience. This is not a fool’s tale (of which there is enough in the wine world) or a saying of a glass supplier, but that is reality!
There are now several providers who strive to develop and produce optimal glasses for wine.
The most committed and renowned Glass maker is Riedel in Austria. Riedel has an incredibly wide range of wine glasses. Five rows (Sommelier, Vinum, Wine, Ouverture and Basic). We only find the two “upper” rows interesting. The sommeliers about 50€ per glass very expensive, but also very good. The Vinum series (starts at 10€) which is affordable and you will not regret it.
In both series, there is a glass that we find very universal. It is offered under the name “Riesling” or “Riesling Grand Cru” as well as under the name “Chianti Classico”. We drink more than half of all wines from this glass. we also got enough for our guests.
This can be supplemented with Bordeaux, Syrah, Bourgogne (each from the Vinum series) or accordingly the sommelier series. also let yourself guided by the wines that you often gladly drink.
Decantation – Why and how?
To decant wines means to transfer them from the bottle to a decanter before drinking. This is done for several reasons: especially young wines often win by supplying air. Decanting carafes are used for this purpose, which ensure the largest possible contact of the air with the wine surface. These are these plate mine shaped glass carafes which are very wide at the bottom and strongly tapered towards the top.
As a rule, one decants wine for this purpose a few hours before consumption, with some wines also 24 hours before. If you have time, you should treat yourself to a wine in the carafe, i. to observe the development in the carafe (or in the glass) for several hours by regular tasting. It is very interesting how some wines develop.
Although red wines generally benefit from air intake, it is also worthy for white wines, especially high quality, young white wines.
Optimal drinking temperature of wine?
Again, we recommend the principle of trying out instead of stubbornly observing table values.
A too cold wine is closed and altogether restrained. A too warm wine is alcoholic and develops disturbing notes in the nose.
Note: It is usually recommended to serve red wine in “room temperature”. This advice was correct when we lived in 18 degrees warm rooms. But today we prefer room temperatures of 20 to 22 degrees. These are clearly too warm for red wine! So, as a rule, you should also put red wine a bit cool.
Reference values for serving temperatures:
Full reds such as Gute, Redd Bordeaux: 16°C to 18°C
Light, tannin red wines: 14°C to 16°C
Best white wines, Beaujolais: 12°C to 14°C
Full, aromatic white wines, port, sweet wines, banyuls, sherry: 10°C to 12°C
Light, fresh white wines: 8°C to 10°C
Please also note that a wine warmed by about 1°C to 2°C when pouring into the glass.
It can be assumed that every 10th to 20th bottle of wine is faulty. Therefore, this topic is really important. At the same time, it is also a very difficult topic, because you have to actually experience wine mistakes in order to be able to recognize them yourself at some point. we therefore limit ourselves to easily recognizable and frequent mistakes and what is often considered a mistake.
That which one sees
Often you experience it, that in the bottle or in the glass small, transparent crystals fall to the ground. This is tartar. Tartar is not a mistake and doesn’t affect the taste of the wine in any way.
Even before opening the bottle you should look at the cork. Mold on the cork is normal and no cause for concern. But if one recognizes that the cork was expelled a little from the bottle, then the wine was probably stoared in high temperatures. A cork must not tower over the bottleneck!
For older wines you should pay attention to the level of the bottle. Sometimes the bottles are not full anymore. The level is an important criterion for very old wines, which also determines the price and which you often have to accept. For wines that are younger than 15 years, this should not happen and is then a clear warning signal that the wine is probably only edible with restrictions.
Sometimes wine is unclear or has flocculent or cloudy precipitates. This can often be seen immediately in the bottle or in the glass. For young wines, a cloudiness is always a mistake. For older wines, especially for red wines, it can also be swirled depot. Let the bottle stand still for a while and wait for the depot to settle. If not, the wine is barely edible and probably outdated.
One more thing: if in the bottle or glass swimming cork crumbs, then try to fish them out. famous cork error.
That which smells
Here is the most important and most common mistake to call the cork-experts. The wine has an unnaturally musty, moldy odor. Typical of the cork defect is that the smell in the glass becomes more and more unpleasant and remarkable. If in doubt, just leave the glass and smell again after 15 minutes. If the odor is gone, it is not a cork error. If the unpleasant odor got stronger then it’s pretty sure you got a corky wine.
Incidentally, it is embarrassing if you complain about a cork error in a restaurant and then the waiter should pour you wine out of a bottle with screw cap. we are sure many waiters can tell such stories. However, there are also cases in which the cardboard used for screw caps as a seal, with TCA (the substance that causes the corkscrew) is contaminated and then leads to an identical odor same as by the real cork tasting error.
Incidentally, it is relatively rare for cork-lovers to disguise themselves. but sometimes the odor is OK, the taste shows no abnormalities, but in the reverberation (the smell of swallowing directly from the throat comes to the nose) comes a remarkable cork odor. Sometimes you do not even perceive the cork error as such, but the wine is just “different” or “worse” than a bottle. This is usually called a “hidden cork error”.
Another flaw that makes itself felt in the nose is the sulfur boobser. The wine then smells unpleasantly sulphurous. Incidentally, there is a proven trick here, as one can identify sulfur bumps: penny piece (copper!) Place in the glass and panning something. If the smell of sulfur disappears, then it is sulfur.
Also an increasingly important wine error is UTA (atypical age grade). UTA, as far as we know, is caused by vine stress (e.g., drought stress), high yields, and early reading. It manifests itself in nose and taste with aromas of mothball and wet cardboard.
Reserve opened wines
The reason why it is difficult to pick up open wines is oxygen. Wine oxidizes when air is supplied and thus becomes inedible relatively quickly. All methods of storing the wine for a few days after opening must therefore be as effective as possible in preventing the supply of oxygen.
Even a simple, airtight closure is enough to let white wines stay enjoyable even for weeks, without them suffering significantly. The level in the bottle is important. An almost full bottle lasts a relatively long time, because naturally there is little air in the bottle. A relatively empty bottle stays much shorter.
Simple white wines can stay drinkable a day or two, better white wines for a couple os weeks.
Red wine is more delicate and usually does not last much longer than a day. otherwise young wines with a lot of acidity and tannin can remain enjoyable for several days.
There are vacuum pumps that make it possible to deflate the bottle. A suitable closure then ensures that this condition is maintained for several days.
There are people who have had good experiences with it. But there are also voices claiming that there is lost flavor through this treatment.
Another system replaces the air in the bottle with a gas mixture. This effectively prevents the oxidation, but is not cheap in the purchase and consumption.
A very effective method is relatively unknown in our technological world – yet very simple and inexpensive. An open bottle can be transferred to a smaller bottle (for example, a small bottle of water with a screw cap). Optimally so that no air remains in the smaller bottle. This significantly reduces the problem and keeps the wine much longer than under an air cushion.
If you bottle the wine immediately after opening the large bottle, then you get longer shelf life. by reducing the oxidation during the pouring (especially in older wines), you can previously fill in the small bottle of a protective gas (see above), which increases the shelf life of the bottle again. For the same reason, it is also advisable to use a funnel with a barrel that reaches down to the bottom of the bottle.
It may also make sense to consciously confront an opened wine with oxygen for several days (for example, with a simple cap). One could say that this treatment somehow anticipates a little future, the changes that an open wine undergoes over the course of 1 to 2 days allow, to a certain extent, an estimate of how the wine will evolve in the future.
The term “tasting” means to taste as much as possible. Nothing else is. Please do not make any science out of it. Drinking wine should primarily be a pleasure.
Everyone can taste wine without any prior knowledge
Imagine, you are asked for a meal, how it tasted you. Nobody would come up with the idea “I do not know. I do not know enough about food for that”. As unbiased as you say, whether you like food or not, you can and should do so with wine. Everyone can taste and judge wine. Why not?
Nevertheless, it is helpful to know what to look for when tasting wine, to see for yourself why a wine tastes good, to be able to talk about it with others, and to know next time the best wine merchant in which you continue through. Whether you like a wine or not depends on the following criteria.
It may sound paradoxical that the appearance of the wine influences whether you like a wine. In fact it is like that. A well-prepared meal tastes better than a carelessly thrown on the plate meal.
Make sure you have a Clear wine, not dull or even cloudy.
Then look at the color depth. A wine that is deep red or rich golden yellow, makes in the eye a better impression, as a wine with pale, inconspicuous color.
The color is also important. It indicates the age of the wine (the more it goes towards shades of brown, the more mature it is, for example, a red wine) and also the type of aging.
After you have deliberately looked at the wine for clarity, color depth and color, take a strong smell once. Smell the wine. Is the odor pleasant and clean, or are there any disturbing components in it?
Is the odor strong or barely perceptible?
Can you possibly even associate certain fruits or other smells? Reminds you of fruit, flowers, vegetables, spices, wood or a horse stable (the latter sounds peculiar, but in fact often occurs).
Is the smell spectrum rather boring or varied and exciting?
It all determines whether the smell is pleasant to you or not. There are wines that smell of nothing, others are so pleasant and varied that you only want to smell it, others have a downright repulsive nose.
In order to enhance the olfactory impression, you can move the glass in circular movements to completely moisten the inner wall of the glass with wine. If you are afraid to spill something, just let your glass circle on the surface of the table top.
In the mouth
After enjoying the odor (hopefully), we take a sip. Quiet a big one so that the mouth is filled. What do you feel now?
Does the wine taste as neutral as water, or do you have your mouth full of wine?
Can you feel sweetness?
Does the wine have carbonic acid (as in mineral water)?
Feel the acid? Is the acid sour? Or supple and harmonious? Is the acid strong or rather dull?
Especially with red wines you may feel the tanning agents (tannins). In young reddish tannins, you experience tannins by making your tongue and palate furry and numb. Tannins can be coarse or fine. Compare different wines, We believe you will soon know what we mean by that.
In the mouth you can feel bitterness. A wine can be alcoholic (like brandy).
We believe that a wine tastes good when all the components are in reasonable proportion. Not too much and not too little acid; not too much and not too little tannins, etc. If the “mix” is right, then you will like the wine. One speaks then of a balanced or well balanced wine.
The famous finish
From the departure is always the talk when it comes to the assessment of wine. You can also say “length” or “sustainability”.
The latter is the best in my opinion. It is simply about the question of how sustainable the wine leaves an impression in the mouth (not in the throat). How long does it take for the aromas to diminish and salivation to normalize? The finish can be measured in seconds. The range is from nonexistent to 10 or 20 seconds. The longer, the more lasting the experience; the better the wine.