Wine has been made for centuries from just a two simple ingredients: yeast and grape juice.
Yeast is the magical ingredient that turns grape juice into wine. There are numerous strains of yeasts and the types used to make wine have been cultured just for this purpose. Yeast is a living organism that feeds of sugars in the grape juice in a process called fermentation. During this fermentation process, the sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The yeast will also impart a taste to the finished wine depending on various factors such as the strain of yeast used, the temperature during fermentation and other factors.
How does wine get its color? What gives each wine its taste?
The way a wine gets its color is by letting the skins of the grapes soak in the juice during fermentation. You can actually make white wine from black grapes by not letting the skins stay in contact with the juice. Champagne is one of the most famous examples.
If the skins are left in the wine for only a short amount of time, a rose (or blush) will be made. If they are left for an extended amount of time, a dark red wine will be the result.
Even though there are very few ingredients, there are many things which influence the taste of wine. First of all, there are many varieties of grapes. Each grape variety will produce different flavors, aromas, and even textures.
In addition, the soil and climate where the grapes are grown drastically affect these variables.
All about White wine
All about Red wine
Champagne and Sparkling Wines
Storing wine is important because just like food, wine is perishable. Proper wine storage will help to ensure that the wine will not turn to vinegar by the time you get around to opening it!
How to Store Wine
The key to understanding proper wine storage is to know what the enemies of wine are. They are heat, light, oxygen, and low humidity.
The ideal conditions to store wine is in a cool (around 7°C - 16°C), dark, and damp place. Since we no longer live in caves or castles, this can be quite challenging.
It's really important to ask yourself how long plan on storing the wine and for what purpose. If you're just a causal drinker and just want to store a few bottles for a maximum of a year or so, then your storage needs will be dramatically different than if you are buying wine as an investment.
Before we go any further...
On its Side or Not?
Definitely on its side. Here's why. Oxygen is the worst enemy to the actual wine inside the bottle. The bottles are sealed from the oxygen with pliable, expansive cork. If the cork dries out, it will shrink and possibly let oxygen enter the bottle and oxidize the wine. Storing the wine on its side will keep the cork moist and maintain the air tight seal for a good deal of time. For extreme periods of time, a humidity controlled environment will be needed to keep the cork from drying out.
The Casual Wine Storer
If you like to keep a few bottles on hand for those impromptu dinners or you just don't like to go shopping for wine but a few times a year, then I'm referring to you as a casual storer. This also assumes that you rotate your stock and only keep each bottle a maximum of about a year or so.
For you, storage will be relatively easy. Just find a place away from sunlight that is relatively cool. Under the sink will probably be fine. Better would be in a basement or under the staircase, etc. You will want to store the wines on their side though if possible. You can keep the wine in a wine rack, but don't place it on top of the refrigerator. The motor could make it warm and they say that the vibrations are bad for the wine.
You may want to consider buying a wine refrigerator (or wine cave). This is especially true if you drink mostly white wine or Champagne. Even though they are not really a necessity at this level, they are very good, because they keep the bottle at ready to drink temperatures.
Quick Storing Points
- Keep Bottles on their sides
- Store in cool place with little temperature fluctuation
- For long term storing, maintain high humidity levels (65% - 90%)
- Keep out of direct sunlight
- Keep away from heavy vibrations (motors shutting on and off)
- Find out the age worthiness of your wines before they are past their prime
- Buy a little more storage than you think you need
Which Wines Improve with Age
- Most wines made today were really intended to be consumed young
- Reds generally age better than whites
- High quality wines will improve and last longer
- Very tannic wines mellow and improve with age
- Champagne will age wonderfully if stored in proper conditions
- Aged wines are fragile and can deteriorate very quickly once opened
- Many dessert wines age well