Whether you practice wine cellaring for business or leisure, collecting wine is not all fun and games. The collector needs to take caution to avoid making mistakes that will cost you a few bottles and fewer dollars in the bank. If you are interested in this trade, take time to learn correct practices from experienced peers who have succeeded in cellaring wine. Alternatively, you may consider applying for an internship at a commercial wine cellaring establishment and learn from firsthand experience. Many wine collecting experts will admit to having made their share of cellaring mistakes that proved costly in the end. In this article, we delve into seven of those mistakes that you should stay clear off.
1) Not having wine to store
Installing a wine cellar is capital intensive, and every dime counts. Decide on the type of wine you want to purchase beforehand and have the wine delivered upon completion. Otherwise, it is pointless to have a fancy wine cellar without tasty bottles gracing the shelves. Careful, rushing the process may leave you with a bunch of wines you do not want.
2) Poor storage procedure
Store wine bottles lying down side by side and keep them close together. Racking this way prevents bottles from toppling over and shaking up wine. For bottles with sealed corks, lay them down so that the cork is moist. Inversely, store bottles with screw caps upright.
3) Aging wine less or more time
While selecting the wine to store in the cellar, you need to know the number of years it takes to age each bottle. Some wines age within one or two years while others take up to twenty-five years. Clearly indicate the required duration of aging next to each bottle or, arrange wines according to their aging time. If you accidentally pop wine before it reaches its desired maturity stage, you miss out on the benefits (taste, financial) that you stood to enjoy with correct aging.
4) Little or no security measures
Wine bottles do not come cheap, especially refined wines meant for aging for decades. Let’s say you are banking on these wines to sell upon maturity and use the money for a round-the-world trip. You cannot let anyone jeopardize that! Go beyond the usual lock on the door and invest in high-tech security systems such as pass codes and alarm systems. If your wine cellar is for commercial purposes, restrict access to authorized personnel only and have them swipe key cards or use biometrics for access.
5) Wrong pairing of food and wine
You may have heard of wine and food pairing in restaurants or among your more sophisticated friends. Pairing wine with food is not a reserve for the wealthy among us. Consuming the wrong bottle of wine after a fancy dinner can lead to disastrous results such as stomach upsets and vomiting. Calling an ambulance after a dinner party is not exactly most people’s definition of success. To avoid such unfortunate occurrences, do some research before placing the wine in an ice bucket. Correct wine and food pairings will not only earn you praise from guests; you could share a few insights of your craft.
6) Poor temperature control
One of the main reasons for storing wine in a designated place like a wine cellar is to provide the optimum temperature for your wine; that is 10- 15 degrees Centigrade. If for some reason temperature in your storage goes above 25 degrees Centigrade, your wine will go bad within a few weeks. High temperatures tend to “cook” wine thus affecting its taste and flavor. It becomes flat. On the other hand, very low temperatures dry out the cork leading to air leaks. Air starts unwanted chemical reactions that change the flavor of your wine rendering it useless for consumption. Even as seasons change throughout the year, ensure that the temperatures in the cellar stay the same and if there is any change, let it be gradual to preserve the integrity of the wine.
7) Allowing light into the cellar
Regular sunshine or ultraviolet rays from fluorescent lighting will penetrate the bottle and affect the quality of wine. Your wine cellar does not require windows, in fact, wine thrives in dark rooms. If your cellar has windows, have them blocked to keep off sunlight. Use lighting that does not emanate ultraviolet rays.
However tempting it is to serve a bottle you have aged for years, please wait another half hour after opening. During this time, the wine opens up thus releasing aromas and softening its flavor. Similarly, do not open wine after long distance travel. Wine shakes when in transit leading to disjointed flavors. Let the wine sit for a couple of days before consumption. Following the correct procedure will ward off unnecessary losses and make the practice more enjoyable.