As a winery owner and a wine blogger, I get asked a lot of questions about wine. Some are technical, but the majority of them are basic questions like “How much should I spend on a bottle of wine?” or “What wine should I bring to a party?” My general response to questions like that is, bring what you like. As my tag line for the podcast and blog state, “I will never tell you what to drink, but I will always share what’s in my glass.”
There is one question that I get asked, that I will consistently provide a detailed answer to. “Is it important where and how I store my wine?” My answer is always a resounding “YES!” Now, in all honesty, if you are going to purchase a bottle and drink it within the next 72 hours, no, it doesn’t matter that much. I mean- don’t put it in the freezer, or on top of the heater, but other than that you aren’t going to effect the wine dramatically in three days. But if you are planning on holding onto the wine for a bit, or you are planning on starting a collection- yes it matters! Whether it’s a ten dollar bottle or a one hundred dollar bottle, how you store it matters.
Statistics show that the the majority of people do not store their wine. Instead, they typically purchase bottles and consume them within 48 hours. But there is an increasing number of people who are becoming oenophiles and are beginning to cellar or “lay down” their wines for years.
If you are going to start a wine collection, there are a few tips that I can provide to help you be confident that down the road, when you do ultimately open that bottle, the wine will be in prime form.
A Little Insight on Sunlight
It is important to store your wine in a dark place. This is one reason basements are ideal. Wine has organic compounds in them and the ultraviolet rays of the sun will actually break these compounds down. As the organic compounds are altered, the aromas and flavors are impacted. Even fluorescent light can be damaging over a period of time, not to mention that where there is light, there is heat, and we all know that heat and wine are not a good pairing. Clear bottles are even more susceptible to the damaging light rays.
Cessation of Vibration
I don’t think anyone is storing their wine on top of a washing machine, but maybe you live close to train tracks. Think about the scenes from My Cousin Vinny, when the train passes and the glasses shake their way off of the end table. (If you have never seen, My Cousin Vinny, where have you been? and you are missing a hysterical movie!)
If wine is agitated, it speeds up the maturation of the wine. Vibrations also disturb the sediment that may be in the bottle and can lead to chemical reactions that effect the wine’s compounds. It also increases the amount of kinetic energy in the bottle which ultimately decreases the level of tartaric acid, which can have an impact on the esters. which are responsible for many flavors. A 2008 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis showed that vibration increases the amount of proponal which is indirectly related to aromatics as well as causing an escalation of acetone notes, which provides a sweetness to the palate.
Same is the Name of the Game
What is more important than an actual temperature is the consistency of the climate. To provide the best aging environment for wine, it should be stored between 53–57°F. This allows the wine to mature steadily and gradually. This is where a wine cellar is ideal.
Although wine lovers dream of building a wine cellar that they can boast about, in reality, not many of us have the space or the money to build the cellars that are “pin worthy.” But for a very reasonable price, there are free standing wine fridges that can fit any space constraint and budget. I received a NewAir 24” Built-in 46 Bottle Dual Zone Wine Fridge in Black Stainless Steel to evaluate. (Model: NWC046BS00 )
The delivery was completed without any problems. I received a tracking number when it was shipped and it arrived quickly. The New Air wine fridge weighs just over 100 pounds, and the FedEx man said he was only allowed to bring it to the door. So be prepared to move it into its position by yourself. Unwrapping was straight forward and I must say, the cooler is beautiful. The black stainless steel is rather elegant. It’s dimensions are 22.50″D (24.00″ w/handle) x 23.50″W x 33.00″H.
Assembly was a breeze, taking about a total of ten minutes. All you need is a Phillips head screwdriver to attach the handle. The door came with its hinges on the right side, but if you prefer it to open in the opposite direction, you can modify that easily enough. Other than that, the only other thing to take note of is that since the unit moves around during delivery and setup, New Air recommends allowing it to sit in place for two hours prior to plugging in to reduce the possibility of a malfunction in the cooling system.
The unit has Dual temperature zones so you can store both reds and whites. It allows you to digitally choose your favorite serving temperatures between 40oF and 66oF and with triple-tempered glass doors, the cold air stays inside to maintain the all important consistency.
One of the things that I find to be important when looking at wine cellars is their quietness. I have been in beautiful walk in wine cellars that the compressor is so loud, you can’t talk when you are inside. I have yet to hear the New Air wine fridge’s compressor-based fan cooling system cycle on and off.
Another thing that bothers me about many free standing wine fridges is that they are designed for Bordeaux styled bottles. Rhone bottles don’t fit well. The New Air wine fridge solves the problem with adjustable cedar shelves that easily slide providing ample space for all your bottle shapes. Cleaning the inside of the unit is suggested prior to storing your bottles. This is done by simply wiping the unit down with lukewarm water and a soft cloth.
To protect your wine from all the dangerous lighting issues, the New Air wine fridge uses stylish blue LED lighting. The unit allows you to choose between two brightness levels. Unlike fluorescent, halogen, or incandescent bulbs, LED lights stay cool so you can keep the lights on inside the fridge and not worry about the temperature increasing and affecting the aging process of your wine. With the unit’s operation cost of less than 30 cents per day, it is extremely energy efficient and if you have children, you have the ability to lock the door.
What other wine storage questions do you have? I would love to hear them and hopefully answer them for you. In the meantime, head over to New Air to look at this and other wine fridges. They have sizes that fit any environment and even ones that hold cans for the beer lovers out there!
Disclaimer: I received the New Air wine fridge at no cost in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was provided and all opinions and comments are my own.
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