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Welcome to Private Connect March 2018

How to store wine

Bottled wines are delicate and proper storage is important to ensure that they have the best chance of withstanding long-term ageing.
Adhering to a few basic principles will greatly assist in preserving the quality of your wine.
Temperature
The temperature at which wine is stored is arguably the most important factor in how well the wine will mature. The ideal temperature for storing wine is around 12 °C. Wine stored at higher temperatures will mature faster, resulting in the wine "cooking" and developing a "raisiny" or stewed flavour. Cooler temperatures may lead to cork damage, causing oxidation, and may also lead to deposits or suspensions forming in the wine. Extreme temperature variation in storing and handling wine should be avoided.

Orientation
Ullage refers to the space in a wine bottle that is devoid of wine, in other words, the amount of air in the bottle. The general principle is: The greater the ullage, the higher the probability that the wine has been exposed to damaging levels of oxidation.

Wine should ideally be stored horizontally at a slight angle to maintain contact between the wine and the cork while keeping the ullage at the top of the bottle, which allows for a more gradual maturation process. Sparkling wines, however, should be stored upright as the internal pressure of the bottle ensures sufficient humidity, and contact with the cork could lead to loss of elasticity in the cork, resulting in oxidation.

Humidity
A relatively high humidity level is important for wine storage, with optimal levels being between 50% and 70%. Lower humidity levels will cause the corks to dry out, while excessive humidity levels will cause wine labels and boxes to decay and will promote the growth of micro-organisms. Due to the built-in humidifier, wine should never be stored in a refrigerator.

Light
Wine needs to be protected from direct light, be it incandescent or ultraviolet rays, as it alters chemicals such as tannins in the wine, causing a change in the taste and the feel of the wine on the tongue, which may render it undrinkable. Be aware that light green and blue bottles require extra protection from light.

Clean air
As wine “breathes” through the bottle’s cork, it is vital to store wine in a “clean-air” environment. The storage space should be clear of chemicals, odours (including other foodstuffs) and insects. Proper ventilation is a must.

Vibration
Wine laid down for storage should be left untouched until it is ready to be consumed. Vibrations stir up the sediments in the wine that are a necessary part of the maturation process, thereby affecting the quality of the wine. Individual wine bottles should be easily accessible so that other bottles need not be moved when extracting wine from storage.

For those who do not have the luxury of a home cellar, free-standing wine coolers and wine cabinets, such as those offered by www.wineessentials.co.za, are available in a variety of sizes with various temperature options, features and styles.
 
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