Cellaring Wine

When cellaring wine, keep it in a cool dark place at a constant temperature.

The constant temperature will minimize leakage from the expansion and contraction causes by fluctuating temperatures.  Even though most colored glass bottles have UV filters incorporated into the bottle glass, this does not offer full UV protection. If a wine is in direct light consistently, it can affect the flavor of the wine significantly, a result of premature aging. Typically, white wines are the most sensitive to light degradation, but reds will also age prematurely if they are subjected to excessive light.

When cellaring wine, keep it motionless.

Vibration accelerates the aging process and can lead to spoilage of your wine. Do not store your wines on top of a refrigerator or below stairs. Although storing wine below stairs seems like a good idea, especially on a concrete floor, we shouldn’t forget about the air vibrations that occur when someone runs up and down the stairs. These air currents cause vibrations which can damage the wine over time.

When cellaring wine, ensure it has fermented dry.

If after cellaring your wine you find corks popping out of the bottles or bottles exploding, the cause is probably incomplete fermentation prior to bottling. The fermentation did not fully end in the carboy and when you added the sorbate, the yeast cells that had already started to bud were not killed. They started to work again in the bottle, building up a pressure which can cause the corks to pop out or the bottles to explode. Always check the Specific Gravity of your wine to confirm the fermentation is complete before stabilizing the wine. This will save you the time from cleaning up the mess and possibly the loss of a batch of wine.

If your wine seems ‘fizzy’ when you open it, the most likely cause is an incomplete fermentation prior to bottling as described above or an improper de-gassing. To prevent this, make certain that you get all of the residual gas out of your wine during the stirring stages.

When cellaring wine, keep your corks (those made of cork) moist.

Always store your full wine bottles on their sides in order to keep the corks moist (if using corks made out of cork). Storing them, for long periods of time with the corks facing up will cause them to dry out and cause air to enter the bottle and spoil your wine. This is not an issue if you use a synthetic cork such as the Nomacorc carried by Brew Craft. When you first cork your wine, you must leave the bottles in an upright position for 10 – 14 days to allow the excess pressure caused during the bottling process to dissipate. Failure to do so can cause the wine to be forced through the cork to alleviate the pressure, resulting in a leaky bottle.

Maintaining a constant temperature of 15 – 20 Celsius in your cellar or storage area will prevent your wine from aging prematurely. Rapid and frequent temperature changes in your storage location are detrimental to your wine and should be prevented.

Keep your wine in a humid location with a relative humidity between 50 – 80 %. Anything below 50% humidity and the cork will probably dry out. Once the cork dries out, air is able to enter the bottle and spoilage of the wine can occur. A little rule that I use to remember the relative humidity and temperature is the 70/70 rule. 70 % humidity at 70 degrees fahrenheit.

When cellaring wine, keep it away from strong odours.

When storing your wine, be certain to keep it away from strong odours. Corks are meant to ‘breathe’. Paint fumes, chemical fumes or other strong odours may enter your wine bottles and taint the taste of your wine.

When cellaring wine, identify your bottles.

Trying to identify the wine in your cellar can be a real problem.  To help with this issue, Brew Craft offers printable wine tags. Simply arrange your wine according to style in columns on your wine racks and hang a wine tag off the top bottle in any style. By arranging and labelling your wine this way, you know that the column below a particular tag, or down to the next tag, is easily identified. You can print the name, type, style and bottling date on the tag, and most are re-usable.

When cellaring wine, add extra metabisulphite if storing for several years.

If you plan on storing your wine for a long period of time (and we mean years, not months), we recommend putting about 5 grams (1/4 tsp) of potassium metabisulphite in your 23 liter batch just prior to bottling. The reason for this is that sulphites dissipate over time , thereby lessening the ability to protect the wine from oxidation. Please remember that if you follow this procedure the wine will smell of sulphides for the first 4-6 months. If you must open a bottle early, allow it to breathe for a short time before serving.

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