In the last edition of Millesima Tips we discussed the important characteristics that a wine can develop with time. This week, we will discover different tools and techniques that will protect your wines as they age.
Age matters: Young vs. old
Some wines are meant to be enjoyed early on, because their tannic structure and acidity do not allow them to age well. Rose wines are very rarely aged. Within a year, colors begin to change and the crisp fresh flavors and aromas that we expect from a rose wine begins to fade. There are exceptional rose wines that can age well: vintage rose Champagne, some rose wines that are aged in oak barrels and wines from Bandol. In the same way that red wines that age in oak become more complex, the same is true for rose wines. Wines from the Bandol appellation age well, thanks to the Mourvedre grape. Originally from Spain, this grape is “closed” in its youth and develops over time.
Wines that possess strong tannins, high sugar content, or high acidity are the most popular for aging. The tannic structure becomes more round and smooth with time, as opposed to its aggressive and unpleasant nature in its youth. Wines that are produced in warmer climates take several years before they “mellow out”. For example Italian and Californian wines can age for several years. For those who dislike hot climate wines, an aged wine from the same region or domain after several years of aging is a great opportunity to understand and compare how a wine can develop over time.
There are many different ways to store your wine. We’ll start by discussing different types of wine refrigerators or coolers. For wines that you plan on drinking shortly after you purchase them, it is best to use a wine refrigerator that can store wine at 50° – 59° F. Most wine refrigerators can store a standard 750 mL bottle of wine. If you purchase sparkling wines, or larger bottles, it is important to see if your wine refrigerator can store them correctly.
Humidity is a very important factor when storing wine. If the air is too dry, there is a good chance that the cork will dry out. If the air has too much moisture, mold is a danger that can be fixed by a dehumidifier. Safe levels of humidity are between 50% and 80%.
Wine caves made for aging are usually bigger and allow you to store more wine, a variety of bottle types and even alter the temperatures in different compartments. They should be opened less frequently than a wine refrigerator used for frequent consumption. These “specialized” caves serve as a type of incubator. A wine cave should be well insulated, away from light and stable. The wine should be stored horizontally to keep the cork in contact with the wine.
Luxury wine cellars
The most elegant way to store your wine is to have a cellar. Wine cellars can range from a well-insulated closet to immense basement spaces. Depending on the budget and the space allotted, some very magical wine cellars can be created. The wine cellar can be used as your own personal storage space and hideaway. The key role of your wine cellar is to provide a stylish and practical space to keep your wines for many years as they develop.