Basic tips on how to store fine wine

Basic tips on how to store fine wine


As South Africa’s secondary fine wine market, made up of consumers, connoisseurs and collectors of fine wine, continues to grow, the subject of wine storage and provenance is of greater importance than ever before.

“Although a home cellar may be more convenient than storing wines off-site with a professional wine storage service, there are key factors that need to be considered before commissioning one for your home” says James Pietersen, the chief executive of Wine Cellar fine wine merchants.

James shares his 5 basic tips for any fine wine cellar:

Wine must be stored at a constant 13ºC to 16ºC

Wine is temperature sensitive so you will need to maintain the ideal temperature band of 13ºC to 16ºC. To do so, you’ll require a cooling unit.

If you intend to store wines privately with the purpose of reselling or realising value from your collection, then recording temperatures with a simple temperature data recorder is essential for provenance.

Optimal humidity falls between 65% to 75%

For perfect cellaring conditions, it’s important that the air is not too dry as it may result in dried-out corks that become less elastic over time.

Dry corks allow more oxygen into the bottle than a healthy, elastic cork would, causing premature oxidation.

However, a damp and wet environment would lead to mould and moisture-ridden bottles and capsules. The ideal humidity level for wine storage falls between 65% to 75%.

Wine refrigerator. Picture: Pexels

Light must be kept to a minimum

Ideally, your cellar should have only the essential lighting. Excess light will deteriorate the wine quality over time.

The wines should also be kept in their cases to ensure a dark environment for each bottle.

Store wines on their side

Although there has been some recent debate about the positioning of wine bottles, we work with many old bottles under cork closure which have been lying on their sides for many years.

From our experience, this traditional way of storing wines lying down, results in healthy, elastic corks.

Keep the original packaging where possible

Although the South African fine wine market is not yet as attuned to original or generic wine cases as the international markets, it is preferable when a wine has been kept in its original case.

If building a home cellar is not an option for you, offers professional, specialised wine storage.

Based in Cape Town, Wine Cellar fine wine merchants store wine on behalf of hundreds of South Africa's most avid fine wine collectors.

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