Optimal storing conditions
A cellar s not just any wine’s resting place. A cellar is, for all wine enthusiasts, their passion’s harbouring place. No matter how small, it is wine’s headquarter, it is a place of love, it’ the place where to linger on looking, organizing, feeling, it’s where such passion will raise and evolve.
Provided with a place to store and conserve wine, anybody will devote to such place his best attentions with regard to the furniture disposition and care, to the cleanliness, tidiness and maintenance. A cellar’s beauty will be enhancement for its wines’ value: extra formal magnificence added to extra substantial integrity.
Five factors should be optimized in order to grant wine the best storage conditions in a cellar.
First of all, total and complete protection from the light: wine must be kept in the dark since light activates and accelerates the processes of development and oxidation. Comparing a wine exposed to light for 6 months to that same wine stored in the dark, it will reveal a much more developed chromatic load, as a much less integer and fragrant aroma and taste. Organizing the cellar, indeed, obscurity shall be granted in the room or designed site.
Air temperature is the second element that defines a bottled wine’s timing for evolution and development. The ideal temperature for a cellar is between 10 and 18 °C, precisely about 12°C. Excessively high temperatures provoke an acceleration of the ageing process, whereas cool temperatures defer, temporally delay the degradation processes that undermine the organic matter. What is almost more important than air temperature is the thermal inertia inside the cellar, the not sudden, progressive indoor heath variation during the course of the seasons. The abrupt temperature changes (rise or drop), indeed, trigger premature precipitations or evolutions of bottled wine. A stable temperature, even as high as 20/22 °C, is less detrimental than a sudden seasonal variation from 12 to 24 degrees. In order to optimize the cellar temperature, it is really effective, even if costly, the use of indoors air conditioners-dehumidifiers. Setting intensity, adjusting duration and frequency for the cooling cycle using timer sockets and/or the equipment’s integrated thermostat, it is possible to reach and keep stable the ideal prefixed temperature. The cellar’s thermal isolation is achievable lining the walls with thermo-isolating polystyrene panels (other isolating materials may work as well). Such expedient is not only useful for attenuating the damages from rapid thermal variation, but also for the air-conditioning expenditure restraint that it allows.
Another factor that determines quality and modality of wine’s storage condition is the percentage of humidity inside the wine cellar. If humidity is too high, it could cause the proliferation of rots on the upper exterior part of the crock, right beneath the cap and also the damaging, still caused by rots, of the wine’s label (for this latter case it is an effective solution to wrap the bottles with some plastic liner). On the other side, if the air inside the cellar is too dry, the cork could desiccate and temperature could change more suddenly. Conditions will be optimal with a percentage of humidity ranging among 55% and 75%. Air-conditioners, while working to optimize temperature, they will also dehumidify the cellar.
Last factor that we shall consider in order to preserve wine in the best possible conditions is the noise. Noise generates vibrations, vibrations mean shaking, hence movement and its consequent precipitation. During its conservation, these vibrations will galvanize any wine’s evolution, making such process faster than what it would be if the same wine was kept still. The formerly suggested cellar’s isolation, not only will be useful to optimize temperature and humidity, but it will also mitigate any eventual vibration caused by noise.
Where a specifically designed place is not available to set up our cellar, we should carve out some space in the room that best represent what has been stated as far. An alternative option may be the purchase of a wine cabinet choosing between the various fashion and capacity available; the cabinet will provide for diversified internal temperatures for any kind of wine’s best storage and service (among the best on the market, several models are commercialized by Eurocave and also Samsung realized a specifically designed small wine cabinet).
In order to maintain the cork always moisturized, bottles stored for long time should be positioned horizontally. For such purpose it is possible to buy or realize a wine rack made in wood, steel or concrete. No matter the shape or the material, two advices are necessary: first, you should always consider the structure’s solidity and stability calculating the load capacity for many overlaying elements, second, you should prefer to create modular clusters (shelves, racks, cages) of no more than 6 bottles each: this measure is fundamental for a comfortable view and handling of the stored bottles.
The wine cellar: composition and selection
No other thing is more personal than giving preference to a specific wine or grape variety. No other thing is more personal than our own cellar’s composition. What follows is a list of general advices and considerations, underlining again that there are no absolute rules for an ideal wine cellar composition.
The most important aspects of a set up selection are representativeness, quality, updating and historical significance. A wine cellar is fully representative when it has inside wines from all Italian regions, representing the most important national (and eventually international) varieties. Representativeness will be finely achieved selecting and purchasing, for example, 5 of the most important wines produced in each region (reaching a number of 100 bottles). A fine assortment can be obtained curating an objectively balanced and subjectively preferred distribution between wine’s macro-categories: a cellar with 100 wines, for example, could be composed of 15 sparkling wines, 30 white wines, 5 rosé wines, 40 red wines and 10 sweet wines.
The assortment’s quality is direct function of the financial means and, even more, of the curating enthusiast’s knowledge-competence. Today’s market is such that it is possible to find several different versions of the most common types of wine, for example thousands Chianti wines can be purchased in any wine shop for a price ranging from 3 to 60 Euros, and a pleasantness index ranging from 70 to 95 points. To drink well costs just as much as it costs to drink badly, it is knowledge what makes the difference. It may be hence useful to seek specialized references, in a guide and/or a journal, in order to have some more or less valid advice (whose reliability you shall always personally prove and reconfirm) on the wineries offering wines with the best RPI (retail price/value index).
The cellar’s update and the selection’s historical significance directly depend on the financial means, on the setting and managing modality, on the cellar turnover’s speed. Some wine enthusiasts identify their cellar as the place where to collect rare and precious vintages, others instead live it as the reserving facility for the wines they will enjoy according to circumstances and tastes. Wine collectors narrow their purchase market on few references, while they extend the number of purchased bottles and stored vintages. Those who prefer to rotate their cellar’s content with a higher speed will select and buy fewer bottles of a larger number of different labels. A good cellar is a cellar based on the balance between these two directive options.