Self-Storage for Your Wine Collection
One way that more and more people are utilizing self-storage is for storing wine. Wine connoisseurs, aficionados, and collectors have found that it is much easier to rent a self-storage unit to store and age their wine, rather than build a wine cellar in their basement (especially if they have teenagers living in the house who may or may not feel inclined to raid their precious collection…). With climate-controlled self-storage units, wine can be easily stored properly and safely.
(See more on climate-controlled self-storage units here.)
Here, we take a look at how to store and age wine properly in self-storage, offering tips for what wine should be aged, and what happens to it when you do age it.
How to store your wine properly
Obviously, you will want to keep some bottles of wine at your house: those are the bottles that you are going to drink on a more regular basis, and ones that you are not going to age. For the wine you do want to store though, there are a number of factors you need to consider.
Wine needs to be stored at temperatures between 7 and 18 degrees Celsius (45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit), but 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) is considered optimal. Much hotter than 18 degrees Celsius will begin to age the wine too quickly, and, beyond that, it will start to oxidize the wine, creating flat flavours.
Even more important than the actual temperature is the fluctuations in temperatures. Fluctuating any more than 2 degrees Celsius in a day, or 4 degrees in a year, will prematurely age the wine. The key to storing your wine then is to keep the proper temperature and keep it as constant as possible.
With a climate-controlled self-storage unit, you can set the correct temperature, and leave it – the unit will take care of the rest.
Humidity is the other side of the temperature equation, of course. High humidity is good for keeping the cork from drying out. If the cork dries out, then oxygen can leak into the bottle and spoil the wine. But then if the humidity is too high, it can develop mold growth and damage the bottle’s label. The ideal amount of humidity is at 70 percent, but, generally speaking, anywhere from 50-80 percent humidity is considered safe.
A climate-controlled self-storage unit will certainly keep the humidity constant.
Sunlight can of course degrade and/or prematurely age wine. All light, in fact, can harm wine, so it is best to make sure lights are left off whenever you are not in the self-storage unit. Fluorescent bulbs can have a detrimental effect, so incandescent lights are better for your wine. Either way, as long as lights are off most of the time, your self-storage unit will keep the sunlight away.
Positioning your bottles properly
A bottle of wine that is bounced around or shaken a lot can degrade the wine in the bottle. Vibrations can increase the speed of chemical processes and/or unsettle the sediment of aged wines, which can destroy the texture of the wine. Wherever you are storing your wine therefore, the first thing to be sure of is that it is in a secure place that will not be subject to any effects of vibrations.
Similar to high humidity, wine bottles with corks should be stored on their side to keep the wine against the cork, preventing it from drying out and letting in unwanted oxygen. If it’s a screw-cap, then this is not significant. But lying bottles on their side (or, better, slightly angled so that the liquid is fully against the cork) is the second item on your list of positioning your bottles properly.
If you take care to follow these tips, then your stored wine should live happily in your climate-controlled self-storage unit.
What aging your wine does to it
So now that you’re set up to age wine properly, what does that actually do – why age wine?
The idea here is that, obviously, it should improve your experience when drinking the wine: properly aged wine can taste significantly better, depending on your palette. The key to the process is polymerization: this is when the chemicals from grape skins and seeds, tannins, mutate their chemical form, creating long chemical chains.
Tannins are astringent and bitter, helping to create a drying effect in your mouth. When wines age and the tannins polymerize, the bitterness and dryness of the wine is muted. Moreover, the aging also allows the tannins to release a stronger aroma.
Typically, white wines are considered better products for aging, as the higher acidity of whites mean that the wine will not become a muddy brown the way red wines can if they are aged too long.
What wines should be aged?
So, the only question left here is what wines are good candidates for aging. The answer will, as per above, begin with white wines, but, generally, it’s really only 1-3 percent of all wines that are true candidates for aging.
When purchasing a wine, it is a good idea to ask if the wine is worth aging, but price is also a reasonable indicator of whether it’s worth aging or not. If you’re only spending $20 on the bottle, then this isn’t going to be worth the aging process. A $75 bottle of white wine, on the other hand, may be worth the investment.
One way to tell is to check any dates on the bottle: if the bottle says something like “best drank within 5 years of purchase,” then this is not a wine to age.
As a final authority, speak with the winery about how they feel about aging any of their products.
Now that you have the ins and outs of storing wine, speak with your Real Storage agent today about your own climate-controlled self-storage unit for your wine. If you have any further questions, they will certainly be happy to help.