How to store wine (source www.idealwine.com)
So that your bottles reveal the fullness of their aromas when drunk, it is necessary to store them with the greatest of care. Thus bottles laid down to age must be kept at precise and constant temperatures, in a sufficiently humid place. Depending on the storage period envisaged, their place of storage or ageing deserves to be the subject of particular attention.
The table below presents the quality of the last vintages in Alsace:
Essential, though often neglected, the storage temperature of wine can alter its ageing, and therefore its aroma and its bouquet. Ideally, it is situated between 10°C and 13°C. In practice, a tolerance of 2 to 3°C remains acceptable. A lower storage temperature slows the ripening of the wine. A higher temperature will accelerate it, but be careful: it risks reducing the keeping potential of the wine and can also prevent it reaching its apogee. The stability of this temperature is, on the other hand, absolutely vital. Sudden changes in temperature, circadian or annual, seriously affect its maturity. To this effect, cellars underground in earth should be preferred, or if this is not possible, covered with small-grade gravel. Stone walls would be ideal. Avoid storing bottles near heating conduits, and better still, insulate them effectively.
Try to maintain a hygrometry rate between 70-75% inclusive at all times. Too dry a cellar causes the corks to dry out, making them less hermetic: to remedy this problem, place a large recipient filled with sand and wet it at regular intervals. Too much humidity presents few risks for wine; as a precaution, it is possible to place a ceramic or glass recipient filled with quicklime, which absorbs the humidity. A cellar that is too damp often causes damage to the labels and in the longer term to the cork; as a precaution, the bottles can be wrapped in plastic film. It is also beneficial to coat the walls with lime once a year, as this will help prevent problems with insects. The storage of wines in wooden crates will considerably reduce the effects of excessive damp. Never store wines in cardboard boxes.
A little air
Mould should be avoided because of its devastating effect on cork. You must provide a little air vent or a ventilation system in the room. The cellar must also be of sufficient volume. All chemical odours are forbidden, in particular the odours of fuel oil The best way of checking on the ventilation is to smell the cork. If it gives off a bad small, air the room.
Light has undesirable effects on the taste of wine. Moreover, induced heat, which is often excessive, accelerates the ageing of the wine. So the cellar must be kept in total darkness. A low-intensity light bulb will be fitted. Cold lights are recommended, such as low pressure sodium lamps that give off little heat. Do not use neon tubes and bright lights.
It is recommended that you clean your cellar regularly and do not store in it any odorous products or products liable to ferment (cheeses, fruit and vegetables…), for the cork in the wine bottles is very sensitive to smells and parasites. It is through it that any odours, bacteria, etc. will penetrate into the wine.
• Measuring accessories and shelving
The cork must not dry out and must continue to seal the bottle: so store your bottles horizontally, so that it is always in contact with the wine. The bottles do not like being moved: do not handle them too much, and organise them on the shelves (classification by appellation, then by apogee period). Keep the white wines on the low shelves, the reds laid down for a long time in the middle, and the older reds at the top. Equip your cellar with a thermometer and a hygrometer.
How to serve wine (source: www.guideduvin.com)
We appreciate wines better if dry wines are served before mellow wines and light or fresh wines before the more complex wines.
At what temperature should a bottle be served? Only a very great red can be appreciated at the temperature of an apartment. In fact, any wine loses quality if it is heated above 20°C. Better to serve them slightly cold (rather than slightly too warm) for the wine will heat up in the glass.
Light reds (fruity wines, primeurs) should be served at about 12°C in summer, which means they will need to go in the refrigerator.
Tannic reds (for example from Aquitaine or the Italian Piedmont) like to be about 18°C. In summer, therefore they should not be taken out of the cellar or from a short stay in the refrigerator before being consumed.
Similarly, certain whites like Burgundies, Loires made from Chenin grapes and the Grands Alsace come into their own at a higher temperature. They can therefore be treated like light reds. As for light whites, they must be served colds, but not iced.
Should wine be uncorked / decanted / placed in a carafe in advance?
This serves above all to oxygenate the wine: aerating softens a red as it does a white (exception: reds with a lot of new oak and tannins, like Californian Cabernets).
Just taking out the cork does not have much effect as the surface aired is tiny: the size of the bottle neck. On the other hand, the wine will oxygenate a little if you pour a first glass.
An old wine should not necessarily be left to aerate or be decanted: it risks losing its bouquet. After about ten years, a wine is constantly losing structure. It should therefore be handled with care. Choose a calm moment to enjoy it: especially not the end of a big meal. Finally, a wine whose stutcure has faded is so fragile that it risks not being able to bear anything except pouring directly from the bottle into a small glass (type INAO, to concentrate the aromas). The day before, place the bottle delicately in a cupboard in the kitchen or living room; leave it upright. Uncork at the earliest twenty minutes before serving.
Many wines benefit from being decanted into a carafe.
Uncork before the tasters arrive and pour yourself a small quantity in a glass to decide what to do next. This tasting will allow you to check if the wine is too old or corked. If the robe is developed (orangey hues) and the nose weak, the wine is too old: do not put it in a carafe. If the robe is steady and the odour weak, the wine is young. It may then deserve to be placed in a carafe. To do this, use a carafe, a large jug or even a water jug. Rinse it well (traces of detergent are a problem). Pour only a glassful into the glass, then taste it. If the taste is improved, the wine needs oxygenating, pour in all that you intend to drink. The less you leave it to rest, the more the aromas are preserved; on the other hand, if you agitate the carafe or pour decant the wine several times, it is will soften accordingly.
Placing wine in a carafe makes it difficult to keep it at the right temperature. This is one of the reasons why the bringing of the wine to the right temperature should be well prepared.