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Less-than-ideal cellaring

Wine is forgiving and slow to change temperature inside the bottle to match outer air temp.

If you don’t intend keeping wine longer than 10 years I wouldn’t worry.

If wine ages a bit faster if kept in warm conditions, does it matter? Unless there is a good reason to put off drinking until a time in the distant future then does it matter that the wine at 10 years tastes a bit more mature than if kept in cooler conditions?

The whole malarkey about aging wine dates from a past time; it was what I was taught 50 years ago when learning about wine. But then classy clarets were all but undrinkable without time passing to let tannins soften enough to let the (albeit thin) fruit through. The Bordeaux Superior appellation was introduced for wines that reached an extra half a percentage point of ABV and reached the giddy heights of 12.5% abv instead of the usual 12%. 14% & 14.5% is common now.

There has been a huge change both in the vineyard producing ripe grapes, picked when fully ripe rather than, as before, reaching minimal alcohol levels, and in the winery by managing oak regime and more.

Winemakers and wine buyers both know that today’s public don’t want to or have the means to age wine.

10 years isn’t really long time storage, but most wine available today are ready for drinking much sooner than ten years in the future.

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I found these units very handy for either boxes of 12 bottles or 2 x 6 boxes rather than stacking box upon box and then finding that the one you want is at the bottom.

Wine case drawers | cranville | Cranville Wine Racks (cranville-wine-racks.co.uk)

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Just a little word of warning, be very careful bringing wood packing cases or any other unopened cases into houses for storage. Had a very bad experience with a wood packing case containing Pomerol fitted with papier-mâché spacers, after it had been indoors for a while box was opened to find an infestation of silver fish living in the papier, consequently the storage area and house. Numerous fumigations and various traps later. All cases are now opened outdoors with great care. And bottles rubbed clean, These things are nocturnal and not at all funny.

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That’s a good summary of my rather fuzzy thinking about this. There are various practical advantages of having the wine in your own home. And I just like having them there…

Jim

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Very good points, thank you, and reassuring. I suspect that even in this august community, only a minority will keep wine for more than ten years. On the other hand, it’s a pleasure to be able to see how a wine develops over a few years, and to be able to grab a bottle of what you fancy as the mood takes you.

Jim

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I’ve stored most of my wine in such a cupboard in S England, much of it for ten or fifteen years. Summer temperature normally hovering around 20, occasionally up to 22 or 23 for a week or so. I’ve never had a bottle that I felt was damaged, or even excessively mature.

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Interesting. @peterm’s point about bottles taking longer to warm up than the surrounding air feels relevant here - are your bottles tightly packed and in sealed cartons?

I wouldn’t expect the temperature inside the cupboard to get up above 20C, although I’ll keep an eye on it. We’re in a traditional North London terrace and the temperature in the middle of the house never gets that warm.

Jim

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Agreed. One of my remaining uncertainties is how many shelves to provide for boxes, and how many to give over to racks.

Jim

No, all just loose (and often just piled on top of each other :grinning:)

Obviously boxes would be nice if you had the space.

Basically though, it’s now more years than I can remember since I even worried about this!

London is a bit warmer, of course. I’d be surprised if it didn’t go well above 20 anywhere there in the (brief) heatwaves, but I imagine you’ve tested?

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I may be inadvertently running my own experiment - these are the kind of threads I read with my hands covering my eyes! The pandemic has increased my buying wine beyond fridge and rack space so I’m just piling it up in the cupboard under the stairs a la @suiko and hoping for the best. I store some with the Society but I’ve been buying a fair amount elsewhere too (shocking I know) and have so far resisted opening up an account at where I could send a variety too. Temp seems pretty constant in there around 20 degrees. It says 21.8 in the pic as my rooting around in there for a while pushes things up as it’s quite a small space. I am trying to keep wine I won’t touch for a few years in the cardboard boxes in line with some suggestions I’ve read. Anything very prized or thought to be more fragile is 2 x 17 bottle wine fridges built into my kitchen island. In hindsight those were a vanity purchase and it would probably have been better to get a larger wine fridge put in with the kitchen. Ultimately something like @Robin63’s arrangement would be ideal, definite understair envy going on! I’m in London, so perhaps a bit on the warm side. My parents have a cellar but it often feels very warm down there contrary to what I would expect.

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Im another under stairs er… Being an old semi its pretty chilled under there… Seems immune to central heating when its on rather use log burner

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I have under eaves storage in my house and have the wine in there for now. At the weekend I had this from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B08GKB5D1M?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_title

£18 for two. Bargain.

So far so good. I think it will be too warm there in the summer… will cross that bridge when I come to it :joy:

Edit - we refer to the area as Narnia because you have to go through a built in wardrobe to get to it.

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We recently had a loft conversion done and I’ve started using the eaves as additional wine storage. It’s actually only 1 degree or so warmer than the external temperature so I had to move the wine into the spare room closet and we just don’t turn the radiators on in that room (not that our spare room needs to be habitable at the moment!). I was wondering what to do when things start to warm up from April. My understairs storage has reached its limit so might need to stop buying wine for storing and increase the rate of consumption!

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I keep our “every day” wines in storage in a converted shelving unit in our integral, north facing garage. Daily Temperature changes slowly but the annual range goes from about 8 degrees (presence of the boiler stops it dropping really low) up to around 20C in peak summer.

We’ve had this arrangement for about 6 years now (just ran out of space in the Eurocave). No sign of any problems with reds at all. Even tried comparing two bottles of the same wine side by side - one bottle from the rack (after 3years) the other spending the same time in the Eurocave. No significant difference.

I wouldn’t advocate for wines for long term storage (7-10 years or more) but seems fine for 2-3 years.

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Actually— if anyone has seen any articles (with some science) on the impact of stable cellaring temperature on wine development i’d love to see these. I have hunted around but not seen a lot of advice. None of it appears to have been subjected to any controlled experient and/or tested blind. (I note someone was hinting that there was a large scale trial underway).

I’ve given some semi-serious thought about how we could do some citizen science / crowd funded experiment on this. If TWS has stable cellar areas that could be kept at a higher / lower temperature we could run an experiment by volunteering paired crates/bottles to age in different conditions. Would it be difficult to get some volunteers who have wine in reserves to participate in the interest of science? As long as the temperatures were not extreme (12, 14, 16, 18C) and kept were stable there probably would be little chance of damaging the wine if the experiments ran for <5 years. Participants could provide their own paired comparison data points on the randomised bottles they receive.

What would be the best type of wine to test this on? We want something relatively sensitive (not Cabernet Sauvignon which as noted above seems remarkably resistant), bit also something which benefits for medium-term aging in bottle? Maybe optimum cellaring temperatures vary by varietals or some other factor.

Too geeky?

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I haven’t tested, or at least not well enough, despite all those weeks of scorching heat last year. At that point I was still holding out for a spiral or a large capacity cabinet…

But I’d be surprised if it often gets above 20. The house faces east to the front, the only sunlight on that side of the house is filtered through a stained glass window on the door, and the cupboard is bang in the middle of the house, in the middle of a terrace. The thermal insulation is about as good as it gets.

Jim

That’s what I decided in the end. And you need a lot of space for a fridge for 200+ bottles, and unless you’ve got a massive kitchen, it can dominate the space.

Jim

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Hmm - thanks, that is a bargain. Some of the cheaper units seem to have problems with the humidity sensor, but the reviews of that one look pretty good.

Jim

At least half of that idea is very sound

Jim

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This is a great idea. If some members kept their cases of the wine(s) in question in TWS storage, some in their home cellars/fridges, and some in amateurish makeshift arrangements like mine, you’ve got the basis of a reasonable experiment. Plus a few people like @Brocklehurstj’s mother-in-law, prepared to take a chance on ruining the wines entirely.

Of course the other major variable is the diversity of our palates… We’d have to have a mass taste-off at a neutral venue at some point in the distant future, when we’re allowed to meet up again, so we can all taste everything.

Jim

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