Everyone can boast an own small cellar - some of us may have only a few bottles, some of us may keep some special wines for specific occasions, while others may even be experts who like to collect sophisticated rarities. Regardless, it would be a shame if our treasure was kept in an inappropriate environment.
Imagine you are at dinner and you have offered to bring the wine in the hope of impressing the other guests - perhaps even with an old bottle of discrete value. Now, imagine that while tasting the wine, you notice that it is completely denatured due to your careless conservation. Well, that's no fun, I can assure you.
Wine can be thought of as a form of capital that remains idle until it is consumed. So, in a way, exposing our wine to the risk of being ruined by abandoning our bottles in a basement - or in any other unsuitable place - is the same as leaving banknotes on a balcony on a windy day.
Hence, allow me to give some advice on how to carefully store your wine.
- Dust... let's talk about it
If old pictures of wine cellars showed dusty and humid environments covered in spider webs, this is no longer true today. Cleaning and order are necessary.
- Temperature and humidity
Temperature should be constant, between 11°C and 15°C, since changes in temperature tend to heavily damage wine. Humidity should be between 65% and 70%.
Never use neon lights but have soft lighting instead to avoid flawing the wine through oxidation
- Wine-only cellars
In order to prevent other flavours to penetrate the cork, it is best to avoid storing food with pungent smells - or worse, gasoline and similar substances - in the same cellar or basement where the wine is kept.
Whether they are wooden, made of metal or plastic, shelves for storing wine should be sturdy, safe and easy to wash.
- Bottles should be stored horizontally
Wine bottles should be left lying, so that the wine will soak the cork, keeping it wet and elastic. This will prevent the cork from drying, which could otherwise lead to unwanted oxidation.
Divide your bottles according to a precise order that will make it easier for you to find what you need when you need it - e.g. sparkling wines together, or regional wines first and wines from other regions then, or from most recent to oldest vintage, etc.
- Inventory and lock
Before your grandmother chooses your 1991 Brunello di Montalcino Case Basse Soldera to cook her risotto - no doubt, an exquisite risotto - and this gives you a heart attack, you may want to keep an inventory of all your bottles. This will allow you to always know what is left in your cellar and, by keeping yourself informed through the many blogs on wine, you will also be able to know the value of your bottles and how long you can safely wait before consuming them.