Now that you've bought that special bottle, how do you make it last?
It's time for another edition of Ask The Expert! In this edition, we tackle the age old question of how best to store (cellar) those special wines you want to last and last.
While most of the wine we buy we consume rather quickly, it's always fascinating to taste wines with some age on them. To aid in that endeavor, we've enlisted Winemaker Hal Landvoigt of Lunar Harvest to give us some tips!
Here is Hal's answer to the question: What's The Right Way To Cellar Wines?
There is a lot of mystery surrounding the need for and the reasons for cellaring and ageing wines. Historically, it was important to cellar wines for two reasons. First, for a long time it was among the only beverages, which were truly "safe" to drink – even water wasn't always safe. So preserving wine for year around consumption was important.
Second, wines made even 100 years ago were much less refined than the wines that make it to the shelf today necessitating that they spend time bottle aging in a cellar to meld their flavors, aromas and structure together. While it still holds true and some wines do improve with ageing (cellaring), the vast majority of wines made today are made to be consumed fresh and in the immediate future, like Lunar Harvest Riesling, Merlot, or Chardonnay, for example.
That said, there are many reasons we may want to keep wine for a longer time – anniversaries and other celebrations, sentimental reasons, or just simple curiosity. The common suggestion is to keep wines at "cellar" temperature. Fortunately for us (but unfortunately for the wine) our cellars are now centrally heated, very cozy basements, not 50F cold, damp rooms. Short of having a cold, damp cellar in your house, the most important thing is to find a space in your home that is dark, cool, and most importantly, as stable as possible in temperature.
Temperature stability is, in my opinion, more important to long term wine storage than having the wine be in a cool space that fluctuates by 20F over the course of a year. This may be the back corner of an interior closet or a dark back corner of your basement. The new wine fridges, while expensive, are a great option to keep wine in a stable environment and simultaneously always ready to drink should the mood strike. On the contrary, the wine racks that are often in our kitchens, next to or above the stove or refrigerator, are some of the worst places to keep wine because of the highly variable temperatures the wine will experience.
Thanks to Winemaker Hal Landvoigt of Lunar Harvest for his answer to the question What's The Right Way To Cellar Wines?
Have a burning question of your own? Shoot us a tweet or a message on our Facebook page and we'll line up an expert to get you an answer! In the meantime you can peruse all of our Expert Answers here!