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Wine storage

I wouldn’t, this refers to an abstract with no information on statistically significant data from 2005. The abstract isn’t even available to view . I’ll continue to lay my cork closed wine down :wink:.

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Abstract is here

The full paper is behind a paywall, I have a copy though. Scanning it there appears to be very little evidence in the paper to support this claim in the abstract:

The bottle orientation during storage under the conditions of this study had little effect on the composition and sensory properties of the wines examined.

It appears to be based on data in this figure:

I’m struggling to find the number of samples this was run on - unless I’m mistaken it may have had a sample size of just 2 bottles per variant!

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That’s all I could find … so basically not significant :rofl:

The figure caption says the values are the means of 7 to 10 replicates. It is not a term I would use, but surely “replicates” refers to “bottles” in this context. You can judge the statistical significance by the 5% LSD bars on the charts - most results are on the border of being significant at that level. Also in practical terms there seems to be little effect.

It is only one study, but how much scientific evidence is there showing that horizontal storage is better?

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This has a fuller description of the entire experiment. 960 bottles of wines in the full set of tests taken from two tanks.

The figure caption says the values are the means of 7 to 10 replicates. It is not a term I would use, but surely “replicates” refers to “bottles” in this context.

Yes really unhelpful, but you’re right after reading the second article ‘replicates’ means bottles in the paper. My phd supervisor used to have a fit when people use obstructive language like this to report findings. I think people have a tendency to do it when they want to sound more ‘sciencey’.

The question of significance is a good one, there seems little attempt to speak to the statistical significance. Bar charts are pretty simple beasts and in this context don’t really appear to tell much of any story at all.

The graph above is based on average sensory scores, which is super subjective. But the figure below is based on analytical data and appears to show a more complex story. There clearly are differences between the measurements from the different storage positions, but these are just averages! An average is a terrible statistic to base plots on a lot of the time and they do not give the full data tables anywhere. There could, for example, be a trend of higher/lower values across all bottles which is being eliminated by just averaging everything. They have 36 bottles of each type so it is a shame they are not presenting all that data.

The wines were kept in pretty optimal conditions. Maybe cork degradation is more of an issue in drier conditions?

Also, this is over just 5 years EDIT: 3 years. I certainly think that a longer experiment would have greater chance of showing any differences if there are any. I have often heard that bad storage for a few years will not cause much to worry about but problems manifest over a longer time period.

My view is that this may show that under good storage conditions and with limited storage time (<3 years), position may not be a significant worry; but going much beyond that would really be more down to my own cognitive bias than any meaningful findings. The statement in the interview seems to be a striking oversimplification for a scientist to make about their own data!

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I agree with what you say on the whole @lorindavies, but it was the R&D Director of Amorin who gave the interview, not the guy who wrote the paper, and normally I would be suspicious of any comment from someone so senior :wink: In this case I think he makes reasonable points - albeit backed-up by flimsy evidence.

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Not scientific but Nick Alabaster, a wine enthusiastic who I really respect, did an experiment comparing half bottles each of Vieux-Telegraphe '95, and Tim Adams Riesling '96 storing one upright and one on its side. He opened one of each after 3 years and one of each after 5 years storage.

After 3 years Nick could find no discernible difference; after 5 years he got Jamie Goode (who is now wine writer for Sunday Express) to taste them. Again, no difference.

Nick said “I no longer lose any sleep over having any of my wines standing up for months at a time!”

Nick’s report at http://www.winelabels.org/artaging.htm

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That is a great citizen scientist experiment! It seems like a logical hypothesis that if a bottle is subjected to temperature fluctuations, then having a bottle on its side will result in leakage as the cork moves around, whilst the vertical bottle would keep the fill levels.

Their summary seems to be right on the money:

So, limited samples agreed, but providing good corks initially (something which I have to say is not something I totally rely on), lying a wine on it’s side is only something that could possibly be of great benefit if you truly are going to store wines for a considerable amount of time (over 5 years), or the wines themselves have limited ageability.

It looks like this is a bit of wine science which has not really been systematically tackled. It would be fantastic if TWS wanted to run some kind of experiment in their facilities?! Interested in donating a few square metres, and scores of wines to the cause of scientific curiosity? I estimate it would only take 15-20 years to come up with some early approximation of some faintly believable and almost certainly controversial and therefore widely-disabused conclusions!

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Interesting discussion. Maybe the “lying them down to stop the cork drying out” argument was a bit of post-rationalization? I would have thought the primary reason for lying bottles down is a purely practical one about storage efficiency. Imagine the space involved in storing this lot if they were all stood up…!?

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I have a question I am wrestling with on the cost of long term storage of wine bought en primeur.

In over 20 years of EP I have unbelievably never really paid any attention to the ongoing long term costs of storage, it is just a direct debit that sorts itself out, but recently I decided to work out what my actual cost of EP wine has been vs the cost of buying that wine today. I am sure many people have had this light bulb moment. I’ve not bothered with the opportunity cost of money tied up or anything like that, I’ve simply worked out my original purchase price + duty and VAT (paid or not), how many years those wines have spent in Stevenage (with accurate annual costs from 2000 onwards), and subtracted that from the cheapest source of buying that wine today. A rather long-winded exercise but very illuminating. So my current WS Reserves of c25 cases currently add up to 120 case years, and after quite a heavy year of EP purchasing that will start to rise by 45 case years per year (ie to £400 a year) from 2021. I can afford that, but what irks me is the inefficiency, knowing that I am wasting (or as this exercise has shown, have already wasted) money on storage when in actual fact I could have just bought that same wine today for less, and indeed bought more varied wines – 3 or 4 of things rather than 6 or 12.

That is always a gamble of course, not much I can do about where a price will go in this mad world, but what I want to attempt to avoid, in future, is buying a wine that needs significant storage time and that has a higher chance of being one of those where the equation likely won’t work in my favour. Overall I am ahead, which I suppose is good – there are quite a few wines that even with 13 years of storage factored in I still could not afford today - but there are a few where paying for storage has been a really poor idea.

What I have observed so far is that higher quality wines, even those where the initial EP purchase price was high, are the ones where things tend to work out in my favour. Most classed growth Bordeaux has been fine (oldest case now 2004) and has quite consistently outperformed the storage cost. I bought almost no Bordeaux from 2007 to 2018, but I can already see that some of the more modest wine I bought in 2016 for instance (because my salary has in no way kept pace with the relentless price rises!) isn’t on that same path, or at least not yet. As I was running low-ish I bought reasonably heavily in 2018 and 2019 and whilst I expect Grand Puy Lacoste and Dom de Chev to be OK, things like Ormes de Pez and Cissac may very well not be. Similarly, decent Red Burgundy has been fine because of the absurd price rises, but for the more modest wines that remain in my price range this may not be the case in future. The biggest revelation/shock has been Sauternes and Barsac. Oh dear oh dear. Obviously I don’t have very much as it’s not something we drink often, but that is something I wish I could roll back time on. Some of it has a further 20-25 years before I might consider drinking it, and if anything the wine is getting cheaper!

I have no cellar at home, I am limited to a c200 capacity ancient single temp Eurocave. This is where all wine be it daily or special occasion is stored, and I try and keep it as diverse as I can – it currently has 58 different wines in it. I really don’t want to fill it with Sauternes, Barsac and cheap cases of Claret or Chateauneuf that still need 10 years!

Obviously what is done is done, but can people who have gone through this give me any pointers as to what not to do in future? I need to see whether the cupboard under the stairs might be suitable for storage of lesser wines for say 2-3 years without too much adverse impact, but those summer weeks of 30 degrees suggest otherwise. (And also what would I do with all the crap already in there?) A spiral cellar is beyond me, but it may be possible to find space for a much smaller wine cabinet with perhaps 30-40 capacity which would take the pressure off, but equally that would cost 12 years of TWS storage and also probably wouldn’t last that long!! A problem is brewing, I need to try and get ahead of it. Drink more maybe.
Jonathan

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There are any number of volunteers to help with consumption :grinning: :champagne:

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Some excellent points, but another factor is availability. All very well to wait and buy these wines already aged, but no guarantee that you will find them.

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From what I can see on a limited scan I think I would always be able to find lesser chateaux or domaines from the major French areas with a bit of age that would be delicious - maybe not one I knew or had ever tried before, but one that would provide drinking pleasure at a very reasonable price. A good example is that Guigal 2015 CdR that was recently released. The only place I forsee struggling is Bourgogne, where when I recently wanted to fill a gap the selection of wines with some bottle age was very limited and I ended up spending an average of £39 for some 2012 village and PC wine from Chauvenet and Chanson respectively.

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I have considered this at some length as well, though from a slightly different angle. I don’t pay for storage as I have all mine at home, though of course I do pay the electricity for the wine cabinets (but living in the Highlands the cabinets have little work to do to cool the wine especially as they are in an unheated utility room!). However my main issue is storage space so it comes to a similar dilemma. I now have a number of wines that I love and that I only seem to see for sale EP - they rarely appear on TWS or anyone else’s lists - so these tend to be the ones I now focus on for my EP orders. Also I’m getting no younger and so have resolved now to start avoiding wines needing 10 years or more storage.

So a recent test with a high quality temperature/hydro gauge has show that my cupboard under the stairs sits at between 18.1C and 18.7C, and between 55-57% humidity. This is based on the last five days with a reading taken every 7 minutes and uploaded to my phone (technoline - really cool system, use it for the greenhouse and house plants mostly). Over the last 24 hours it was constantly between 18.5C and 18.6C, so really quite stable. So it seems to be slightly below the ambient temperature of the house, and does not really vary based on whether the central heating is on or off.

Although that is on the hot side, I am wondering whether this stability might work for short term storage of wine during the winter months, to store “overspill” wines that won’t hang around long - for instance ready-to-drink white wines that I anticipate will be drunk between now and March. My Eurocave has 2 shelves dedicated to “everyday wines”, largely populated by white Loire, rosé, cheaper reds and so on. It’s convenient to be able to just grab something from there, but is it actually a waste of good ‘cellar’ space? Ie it could house 3-4 cases currently residing at TWS and that cost me £37 per year to store. This may then require a change of strategy in summer as that temperature will surely rise (22-25C is my best guess at the moment) but then again if a wine is not an expensive wine, for instance my annual summer cases of Rosé, simple White Burgundy with a likely two year drinking window (a la “les Setilles” level), Beaujolais etc, will it really make much of a difference? Should I go for it?

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Go for it!

The temperature of liquid will change much more slowly than air temperature. I see no issues with storage over a couple of summers either, for that same reason. It will be even better if you have a large bulk volume of cases together to increase the inertia/buffering against fluctuations.

The really difficult bit is to decide which cases to take out of storage :slight_smile:

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What sort of building is the society storage facility??

Yes you should got for it. It’s a stable temperature and will change only slowly over seasons.

Wine fridges have limitations and drawbacks in space and easy access to bottles as discussed elsewhere and if there is any possibility of using a spare room /garage/ outbuilding – as long as that has an outside wall, do consider airconditioning a whole room. About the same price as a premium wine fridge. More space, fewer limitations. My new installation is not as swish as MrNXM’s (!) but is functioning well.

For many years I have happily been using a below ground space (which used to be the coal cellar) as my wine cellar. Temperature generally fluctuates slowly between 13deg C to 18 over the seasons and red wine kept in there (even over 15yr) has never gone ‘bad’ - just matured in the way I was expecting. In extreme summers it has once or twice hit 20deg for a few days which has given rise to a little worry about the whites.

But that cellar is now full and bottles had started to migrate to other less suitable parts of the house. Our tastes had also changed in recent years and we were drinking more white wine than red. I had wondered off and on about building another cellar but at £24,000 for a 1000 bottle Spiral Cellar it just was not value for money!

My solution recently has been to convert the utility room into an extra and new capacious cellar for less than one tenth the price of a Spiral Cellar but with space potentially for more bottles than a Spiral Cellar and the same ease of access to any wine at any time. My main concern is excessive heat and hot summers. I use a split unit Mitsubishi airconditioner / inverter which was professionally installed for just under £1500 all in. There are two halves to this - an external box with compressor and fan connected with a slim pipe through the wall to an interior box which distributes the cool air (or warm - more on this later). The internal unit on mid fan setting is inaudible [official spec is 24-29dBA. A quiet public library reading room is typically 40dBA.] The external unit emits a faint whirr when working hard - and if you mount it higher up the wall out of level line of sight it is fairly unobtrusive. This is the model I have: SRK35ZS for a 4m x 4m room. It is ‘3.5kW’ but doesn’t mean it draws 3.5kW of electricity - it refers more to the heat load it can extract from the room. The rating you might need depends on the room size, number of windows etc. Electricity use is quoted by the manufacturer as typically 150 kWh per year – so running cost ‘should’ be roughly equivalent to merchant storage charges for 2 cases of wine in exchange for virtually ‘unlimited’ storage (for my needs anyway!).

An important point – you must be able to fit a remote temperature sensor for the aircon. Mitsubishi can, but I don’t know for other brands. The reason is all these sorts of domestic aircon quote a temperature ‘settable range’ of 18 - 24deg C but in fact the exit cooling air is always about 7-8 deg (it is time-cycled to achieve the set target). The normal temp sensor (now disabled) is inbuilt and mounted on the indoor unit itself, but if you site the remote sensor somewhere in the room that is a bit warmer and away from direct cold air flow you can achieve temperatures lower than actually ‘set’. In my photo the sensor is mounted in the far corner behind the hanging thermometer.

Currently, the room temp runs about 15.5 deg C with a fluctuation of 1 deg either way, even during the recent heatwave where we had outside temps of 28-29. Across the room there is a differential of about 1 degree, excepting the small far extreme corners where it is about 2 deg such as near the connecting door to the next room. I plan to run it in cooling mode until the late autumn when temps will come down naturally to 15 anyway. I will then do nothing between 10-15 deg. The Mitsubishi unit is a reversible heat pump (‘Inverter’) and has an ‘anti-frost’ function which in winter will make it run in reverse to inject heat into the room to keep it above 10deg. I am now a happy bunny. …and my wife’s fridge and washing machine still fits in the new cellar/utility room.


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Excellent work and food for thought.
IMG_0368

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