Temperature and humidity levels have such an influence on wine that they can even cause alterations in its taste. The risk that an entire collection of wines could be ruined is ever-present, if these two factors are not taken into consideration.
Every wine collector knows the importance of maintaining those values within an acceptable range, so as to create a secure, controlled environment, where stocks of this precious beverage can be stored. Below are some useful tips for ad hoc wine conservation.
Essential requirements for wine storage
Temperature and humidity levels play a key role in determining the final taste of the wine. Considering that each type of wine has specific requirements, some simple rules can be adopted, in order to ensure an optimal environment for wine storage.
The first crucial factor is temperature. The level must be maintained between 12 and 16 degrees Centigrade, so as to allow the wine to mature according to the right timescale. Sudden changes in temperature should be avoided, since they risk compromising its flavour.
The level of humidity, on the other hand, has an indirect effect on the wine. The corks used to seal the bottles are usually made from natural cork, as it guarantees that the product is able to breathe, without its quality being affected.
If the wine cellar is not humid enough, so too dry, the cork tends to dry out and its adherence to the sides of the bottle may be diminished. In that case, oxygen can get in, causing the wine to oxidize. Too much humidity risks moulding the cork, with a consequent unpleasant aftertaste. The ideal humidity level for wine storage is between 50% and 70%.
Air-conditioning for wine storage
In order to keep the temperature and humidity levels under control efficiently, it is advisable to use a cellar with air-conditioning. Such equipment (including models designed specifically for wine storage) can be set according to the requirements of the product to be stored and will accurately monitor any variations in the balance of the levels.
This kind of conditioner should not be confused with traditional air-conditioners, as the latter are not able to adequately regulate the temperatures required for wine maturation (they often do not reach the levels mentioned above). Furthermore, their humidity control is not efficient and would risk causing serious damage to a wine collection.
Other important aspects are the size of the cellar and its correct insulation. Not all conditioners are suitable and their effectiveness depends greatly on the surface area and the heat dispersion in the room where they will be installed. When buying one of these devices, it is then better to have a clear and detailed idea of where and how it is to be used.
Other useful advice for wine storage
As well as temperature and humidity, there are other important factors to consider for correct wine storage. In order to conserve wine under ideal conditions, it is essential to keep the bottles far away from direct sunlight. The UV rays in fact, may harm the beverage’s internal components, creating imbalances in the flavour.
One characteristic that distinguishes the quality of one wine from another is its bouquet. Together with its taste, this is one of the key aspects of wine tasting, which, if altered, may result in a reduction in the product’s prestige. Not everyone is aware that a wine’s bouquet depends (largely) on the place in which it has been stored.
Whether the wine is kept in wooden barrels or bottles, it is important that the cellar is always clean and well ventilated, so that there are no strong odours which could affect the wine.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith