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Posts Tagged ‘wine storage information’

Wine Cellar FAQs

October 8th, 2013 No comments
Traditional Wine Cellar in Memphis, TN

Thinking about building a wine cellar, but find yourself bogged down by questions? Never fear. Below, we’ve compiled the questions we are asked most frequently about building wine cellars. Find the answers you’ve been searching for below. Have a question that’s not on this list? Contact us and we’ll answer it for you!

Q: Do I have to have  to store wine in a wine cellar?

A: If you’re a casual wine drinker who consumes bottles soon after you buy them, you probably don’t need a wine cellar. But if you’re a collector (or aspiring collector) or wine, you should protect your investment by storing it in the correct conditions. Wine stored in too-hot or too-cold conditions, at the wrong humidity, or in an environment in which temperature and humidity fluctuate, can mold, evaporate away, turn rancid, or undergo chemical changes that can make it taste unpleasant.

Q: Does a wine cellar require special construction?

A: Yes. Wine requires a unique environment different from that of your home. Wine cellars must maintain a temperature of between 55 and 78° Fahrenheit and humidity between 55 and 75 percent. This is far colder and more humid than your average house. A wine cellar has to be specially constructed to maintain and control this unique environment. The most important part of this construction is a vapor barrier, which keeps the high humidity in your wine cellar from migrating to the low humidity environment in the rest of the house. Vapor barriers are often overlooked by inexperienced wine cellar builders, leading to ruined wine and high repair costs for the owners later on.

Q: I don’t have underground space. Can I still have a wine cellar?

A: Absolutely. Long ago, people used to store wine underground because conditions were usually more optimal there than above ground. But with today’s technologies, we can create a wine cellar with perfect conditions in many different locations in a home. However, wine does need to be protected from light, heat and vibration, so picking a cool spot away from windows and excessive noise will save you on construction and energy costs.

Q: I don’t have a lot of extra room in my house. Can I use a closet?

A: You can! Small space should never limit your wine cellar aspirations. It is possible to convert a small space like a closet into a fully-functional and beautiful wine cellar. For proof, check out this 800-bottle cellar Vintage Cellars wine cellar constructed in a San Diego home.

Q: Do the wine racks have to be custom-built for my space? That sounds expensive.

A: No. While custom racks are certainly an option, there are many other kinds of racking systems available on the market today. A modular system like Vintner wine racks can give you the gorgeous custom feel without the high price tag. Vintner offers a variety of wine rack sizes and styles, such as columns, bins, and diamond racks, that can all be fitted together to perfectly suit your space.

Q: I love wine but I don’t have an eye for design. Can you help?

We’d be honored! Most of our clients know that they want a unique and beautiful space, but they don’t know exactly how to achieve that. We specialize in listening to what our clients want, then working with them to create a beautiful design that suits them and fits seamlessly into the rest of their home’s design. Contact us today to see what kind of wine cellar we can make for you!

 

Wine Dispensing Best Practices

March 12th, 2013 No comments

WineKeeper’s Magnum 8 Bottle

You found that perfect wine while tasting at a sun-soaked vineyard years ago. You carefully carried a bottle home and placed it in your wine cellar. You monitored the temperature and humidity. You researched and thought about when the right time to open it. Finally, tonight’s the night: it’s time to uncork that bottle and at long last, enjoy the wine inside. But here’s the rub: you don’t want to down the whole precious bottle in one night. How do you enjoy the wine over a few days without losing that taste you’ve worked so hard to build?

Anyone who’s left a bottle out on the counter or in the refrigerator knows that the wine just doesn’t taste quite as good the next night. Can you save your wine without losing taste? The answer is yes: Your just need a wine dispenser.

Wine dispensers are devices designed to preserve wines. They store wines at appropriately cool temperatures, and keep oxygen from coming in contact with the liquid inside the bottle. You’ve probably seen wine dispensers used at restaurants and bars. But wine dispensers are available for home use, too.

One wine dispensing system we recommend is the WineKeeper. WineKeepers work by replacing the oxygen in the open bottle with nitrogen, a gas that doesn’t react with wine. Meanwhile, they hold bottles in a refrigerator specifically calibrated to the right temperature to preserve the wine. To use the system, you uncork the wine, insert the dispenser’s stopper faucet, and plug in the gas. You’re ready to pour a perfect glass.

WineKeeper offers a wide variety of dispensers. If you’re a restaurant or bar owner, you might be interested in something like their 8-bottle model, available in all kind of finishes from oak to stainless steel, and customizable with features like chrome faucets and a door lock. This model has different temperature zones for white and red wines, making it simple to keep each at its correct temperature.

If you’re a home enthusiast, you might be more interested in WineKeeper’s 4-bottle model, called the Napa. Though smaller, this model uses the same nitrogen preservation technology and advanced refrigeration system, and has two separate compartments for wine and red wines.

Whether you need a commercial or personal model, WineKeepers will keep opened bottles of wine fresh for weeks, so that you never waste that second half of the bottle again.

Wine Pronunciation Guide

September 25th, 2012 No comments

Image credit: Dave Morrison Photography

Raise your hand if you’ve ever avoided ordering a bottle of wine at a restaurant because you couldn’t pronounce the name. Bookmark our wine pronunciation guide and never fear embarrassing yourself again!

Alvarinho: ahl-vah-ree-nyoh

Albariño: al-bah-ree-nyoh

Barbaresco: bar-bah-RES-coe

Barbera: bar-BEH-rah

Barolo: bar-ROW-lo

Beaujolais: boh-zhuh-LAY

Bordeaux: bohr-DOH

Brut: BROOT

Cabernet Franc: KA-behr-nay-FRAHNGH

Cabernet Sauvignon: ka-behr-NAY so vihn-YOHN

Cava: KAH-vah

Chablis: sha-BLEE

Chardonnay: shar-doh-NAY

Châteauneauf-du-Pape: shah-toh-nuhf-doo-PAHP

Chenin Blanc: SHUH-ihn BLAHNGK

Chianti: key-AWN-tee

Colombard: KAHL-hm-bahrd

Cote Rotie: coat-row-TEE

Côtes du Rhone: koht deu ROHN

Cuvée: koo-VAY

Fumé Blanc: FOO-may BLAHNK

Gamay: GAM-may

Gewürztraminer: guh-vurts-TRAH-MEE-NER

Grenache: gruh-NAHSH

Kir: KEER

Languedoc: lawn-geh-dock

Madeira: muh-DEER-uh

Malbec: mahl-behk

Merlot: mehr-LOH

Montepulciano: mawn-teh-pull-CHA-no

Montrachet: mawn-rah-SHAY

Mourvedre: moor-VAY-druh

Muscat: MUHS-kat

Nebbiolo: neh-be-OH-low

Nouveau: NEW-voe

Petite Sirah: peh-TEET sih-RAH

Petit Verdot: puh-TEET-vare-DOE

Pinot Blanc: PEE-noh BLAHN

Pinot Gris: PEE-noh GREE

Pinot Noir: PEE-noh NWAHR

Pouilly-Fuissé: poo-yee fwee-SAY

Pouilly Fume Poo: yee-foo-MAY

Prosecco: praw-SEHK-koh

Riesling: REES-ling

Rioja: ree-oh-hah

Rosé: roh-ZAY

Sancerre: sahn-SEHR

Sangiovese: san-joh-VAY-zeh

Sauternes: soh-TEHRN

Sauvignon Blanc: SOH-vee-nyawn BLAHNGK

Semillon: say-mee-YOHN

Shiraz: she-RAHZ

Spumante: spu-MON-tay

Syrah: see-RAH

Tempranillo: temp-ra-NEEL-yo

Trebbiano: treb-e-AH-no

Verdelho: vehr-DEH-lyoh

Verdicchio: vehr-KEEK-kyoh

Viognier: vee-oh-NYAY

Zinfandel: Zin-fan-DELL

Five Ways To Use Empty Wine Bottles

August 28th, 2012 No comments

 

I’ll admit it: I go through a lot of wine bottles. I love drinking the wine, but there’s something I really hate about tossing all those bottles in the recycling bin. Luckily, creative people all over the web are one step ahead of me. They’ve found tons of creative ways to transform old wine bottles into cool crafts and works of art. Here are our top five favorite wine bottle projects from around the web:

1. Turn your old wine bottles into backyard tiki torches with a modern flare. From Design Sponge.

 

 

 

 

2. Use a wine bottle to create a feeder that will draw hummingbirds to your backyard. From Allie Makes.

 

 

 

 

3. Turn wine bottles into a gorgeous chandelier for a trendy rustic look. From Oregon Live.

 

 

 

 

4. Cut the bottoms of of your wine bottles to turn them into romantic candle holders. From Emmaline Bride.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Pour paint into cleaned wine bottles to give them the look of expensive enameled pieces. From CBC.

 

Has My Wine Gone Bad?

June 19th, 2012 No comments

If you’ve been drinking wine for a while, you’ve most likely encountered a bottle that has gone bad somewhere along the line.  Unlike wines that simply taste “less-than-good,” bad bottles taste unbelievably bad!  What causes such ruined wine?  Here are a few factors…

bad wine that tastes like vinegar

Image from northof9finewine.blogspot.com

A Bad Cork: Bad corks are the number one cause of “bad” wine.  If stored improperly (upright instead of on its side, or in an environment without much humidity) a bottle’s cork can become too dry.  It can then crumble, exposing the wine to air prematurely.

Air Exposure: Premature exposure to air (often because of bad corks) makes wine go flat and taste weak.  Any air leak will quickly ruin decent wine.  Some people mistakenly think that re-corking a bottle of opened wine will enable it to be preserved as before.  Unless you’re using a wine preservation system similar to the Winekeeper Vintner 3 Bottle Wine Dispenser System, just popping the cork back on will not preserve your wine; the air remaining in the bottle will wreak havoc on your remaining wine.

Warm Storage: If wine has been stored for a lengthy period in heated conditions (direct sunlight, an uncooled storage area, a steamy car trunk, etc.) It can acquire a rubbery, burnt-like taste.  One telltale sign of a bottle that’s been exposed to heat is a cork that leaks a little bit of wine.  If you’re storing wine at home in your cellar, consider investing in a WhisperKOOL XLT 1600 cellar cooling unit that not only regulates temperature, but also humidity!

Past its Prime: If a wine ages too long after it’s reached its maturity, it will begin to taste like vinegar.  Lots of people mistakenly blame vinegar-tasting wine on something that happened during the production process.  Most of the time, however, that vinegar taste simply indicates the wine was stored way past its prime.

So, if you’re storing wine, make sure it is kept out of direct sunlight, stored on its side in a climate-controlled environment (preferably where moisture is also monitored), and consumed close to the time when it reaches its maturity.  Follow these simple steps, and the amount of bad bottles you open in your home will be minimized. Cheers!

What’s Vintage Port?

April 24th, 2012 1 comment

Just as aged tawny ports are created from the “best” harvests, vintage port is made from only the finest harvests.  In fact, vintage port is the most desirable of all port wines, and collectors often proclaim vintage ports to be the pinnacles of their collections.   Vintage ports are very full-bodied wines with an abundance of sturdy tannins that make them loved and prized by port connoisseurs across the globe.  They are well-balanced, and contain gentle fruit flavors of cherries, figs, and hints of black licorice and chocolate.  (Don’t worry, even if you don’t care for black licorice you’ll probably still like vintage port; lots of folks who aren’t big licorice fans love it!)a bottle of vintage port from 1963

Vintage port is made from the grapes of the finest harvests of a single year.  After aging for two to three years in wood, the wine is bottled for at least fifteen years.  Unlike other port wines that are meant to be consumed at the time of purchase, some vintage ports are intended to be held onto.  For instance, the majority of vintage ports from 1991 to 2003 should be purchased and kept until their flavors peak.  Vintage ports that have “reached their peak” and should be enjoyed now are those from 1970, 1975, 1977, 1983, & 1998.  Some vintage ports can either be consumed now, or can be held until a later date.  These vintages are from 1980, 1985, 1987, & 1998.  (Be aware that the years of some vintages may be approximate, since not all port houses declare the same vintage year.)

Unlike tawny port, vintage port needs to be decanted when served.  Bottles of vintage port contain a lot of sediment, and decanting helps to remove it.  Consider using a sophisticated decanter like the Riedel Tyrol wine decanter to effectively aerate and remove the sediment from your bottle of vintage port.  If storing a vintage port in your wine cellar, make sure you store the bottle on its side (as you would any other wine), and keep it in a room with a maintained temperature.  Ideally, a steady temperature between 55 and 60 degrees is fantastic for port.  Cheers!

Top 5 Wine Storage Mistakes

February 23rd, 2012 No comments

Let’s face it, people make mistakes.  And when it comes to wine storage, a lot of people make innocent mistakes that end up costing them a few (or more!) good bottles of wine.  Here’s how to avoid some common wine storage blunders.

The Top Five Wine Storage Mistakes

Always store wine on its side

The proper way to store wine: on its side! (photo by Jorge Royan)

1. Storing wine upright.  If you store wine with your bottles standing up, the wine does not keep the corks wet, meaning they can dry out, allow excess air inside, and then make the wines taste like vinegar.  It’s easy to buy a case of wine, put it off the the side in the basement (upright) to store later, and forget about it until it’s too late.  Don’t let this happen to you!  Store your wine on its side.

2.  Not controlling temperature.  Gradual changes between the seasons won’t harm wine, but rapid temperature fluctuations–like big, same-day changes–will age wine prematurely.  If your cellar temperatures are all over the map, invest in a WhisperKOOL Extreme 8000ti (a large cellar unit) or another quality wine cooling unit, so your cellar’s temperature stays constant. Read up on proper temperatures for your collection, too.

3. Not controlling humidity.  Corks will shrink if cellars fall below 50% humidity, letting excess air into your bottles (even if they’re properly stored on their sides).  In fact, a humidity level of 70% or 80% is quite good for your wine!  If your cellar is too dry, invest in a humidifier to preserve your precious vino.

4. Sunlight in the cellar.  UV exposure degrades a wine’s organic compounds, making it age too rapidly.

5. Vibration or frequent moves. Keep your wine away from vibrating machinery, and even trucks going by when possible.  Low vibrations can “shake” wine bottles, thus disturbing their sediment and speeding up the aging process.  If using house-shaking, vibrating power tools, its best to use them away from where you store your wine. And don’t move your bottles more than necessary.

By avoiding these errors, you’ll better preserve your wine collection and insure it ages appropriately.  Cheers!

eSommelier: a New Way to Organize Your Wine Collection

February 16th, 2012 No comments
eSommelier Wine Collection Management System

eSommelier Wine Collection Management System

Technology has certainly been keeping the wine world on its toes!  With the latest wine app releases, to devices with unparalleled scanning, pairing, and locating capabilities, what new wine gadgets will they think of, next?  Here is one that we find quite a catch!  It’s called the eSommelier, and it’s a complete wine collection management system.  Perfect for people with large collections, the eSommelier is an elegant, touch-screen based wine inventory system designed to keep track of the wines you have in your cellar, restaurant, or commercial business.  Featuring a top-of-the-line bar code scanning system and printer, you can easily identify and track every bottle of wine you own.  Gigantic catalogues of wine info and reviews are included, too, and are accessible just by touching the screen.  Measuring 13” x 15” X 6”, the eSommelier can fit just about anywhere.  The hardware (touch screen, printer, scanner, flash drive backup) and software are all included, so eSommelier is ready to run right out of the box.  Plus, you’ll have access to a year’s worth of online updates.  With eSommelier, you can easily view your wine inventory, and be kept informed about when you should start drinking some of your older bottles!  You’ll be able to see wines that have reached their ideal drinking age, be able to view professional tasting notes for each wine, view your cellar’s temperature from anywhere in the world, keep a record of your cellar’s temperature and humidity history, allow guests to view your wine collection, digitally, and much, much more.  For a stylish, easy-to-use, standalone piece of professional equipment, eSommelier is one of the best wine organizational tools we’ve seen recently.   It’ll definitely enhance your collecting experience.

To Cork, Bag, or Seal Another Way?

January 24th, 2012 No comments

In 2011, over 60% of the most popular domestic wine brands were sealed with natural cork.  This statistic comes from the Cork Quality Council, a Napa-based organization.  Based on surveys of A.C. Nielsen data, the executive director of the Quality Cork Council, Peter Weber, claims that there has been “a sharp increase in the sale of wine sealed with cork.”  He further comments that there is “unwavering consumer preference for natural cork” and that there are “emerging problems with alternative closures.”  Although the majority of popular wines in 2011 were sealed with cork, note that a great number of popular wines were also sealed by other means (under 40%)!  And just because a wine is sealed with a cork does not make it “better” than a wine sealed with a screw cap.  The same is true of boxed wine. That said, the top bottles will probably continue to be sealed with natural corks for years to come. Tradition and time-tested methods persist strongly in the wine world!

While these “alternative closures” can pose difficulties (screw caps can trap excess gasses that naturally pass through and out of cork, synthetic corks can become difficult to remove after a few years, traces of plastic that makes contact with the wine can be ingested, etc.), a lot of popular wine is packaged with them.  The natural vs. synthetic cork debate will probably continue for many, many years.

The Rogar Champion Pewter-Plated Wine Opener with Hardwood Handle & Table Stand

The Rogar Champion Pewter-Plated Wine Opener

Why choose natural cork?  Possibly because of tradition, to take home a cork as “souvenir” of a meal or special occasion, to remember a particular wine, to use in a craft project, etc. Cork is also a renewable resource, and, of course, biodegradeable.

Why choose screw caps or boxes?  For convenience; if you’re on the go, no corkscrew is needed, and bottles can easily be capped to prevent spillage.  Boxed wine will “keep” on a trip, and it pours easily.

What works best for long-term storage?  Not boxed wine.  (If your box has a “boxed on” date, you should drink it within a year of that date.)  Screw caps or corks?  The verdict is still out, and even the experts cannot agree.  This usually means you’re pretty safe either way.  To solve the “hard to open” issue, if you’re opening a corked wine, no matter what the “cork” is made of, try using a Rogar Champion pewter-plated wine opener. This elegant, timeless piece makes opening any wine a breeze.  You can uncork (and even recork) a wine bottle in under a second.  No matter the material of your cork, a good opener like this is nice to have on hand.  Corks of some material will likely be a part of the future of most wine for many, many years.

What are your thoughts? Do you buy “alternatively sealed” wines? Would you ever consider them for aging, or are they strictly “table wine”?

How Red Wine is Made, Today

December 6th, 2011 No comments

Today, most red wines are produced using a process similar to this one…

First, a vintner decides when the grapes are ripe.  This is done by taste, concurrent with today’s technology of taking accurate sugar readings.  The grapes are then harvested and placed into a machine that removes their stems.  The machine also crushes them (without pressing them) so that A) the grapes become exposed to yeast and B) the skins will color the wine.  The yeast then transforms the grape’s sugar into CO2, heat, and alcohol; this is fermentation.  The crushed grapes and liquid then sit (macerate) until it is decided that the taste is ideal.  During this process, the grape skins often float above the liquid.  Since these skins must remain submerged, for best results, they are repeatedly pushed back into the liquid, or the liquid is mechanically pumped over them to continually submerge them.  If the grapes sit for too long in this state, the wine will taste bitter.  If they do not sit long enough, the wine will taste too weak.  The vintner determines when enough time has elapsed.  Once the decision has been made, the liquid is removed and the solids are sent to the press.

Mechanical Wine Press

A Mechanical Wine Press (image from Wikipedia)

A mechanical press squeezes out the remaining juices in the solids.  This, too, is a delicate process; pressing too firmly or too frequently produces a poor quality wine.  After this, the wine needs to settle; transferring the wine from barrel to barrel after settling helps to separate/filter out solid matter and other particles that may cloud the wine.  Following this, a malolactic fermentation stage is often the next step in red winemaking.  Here, a wine’s malic acid is converted into CO2 and lactic acid.  Basically, the process reduces a wine’s acidity by organic rather than chemical means.  (Certain wines like Gewurztraminers, Reislings, Ehrenfelsers, and others that depend upon malic acid to enhance their flavors do not go through this step.)

After an aging process, the length of which is determined by the type of wine, fining and filtering processes remove sediments from the wine.  The wine is then bottled carefully to avoid contact with the air. (And, as we know, many of the best bottled wines are stored for several years before they are released to us!)  For more fascinating information about winemaking and wine technology, check out Vintage Cellar’s Wine Storage Education Center.  There, you’ll find more tantalizing trivia and wine storage tips to think about.  Cheers!