Storing Wine At Home
If you're not lucky enough to have a cellar at home, or if the cellar you do have is damp or mouldy, or worse - already taken over by a boiler or washing machine - then you might be thinking of investing in a wine cabinet or Spiral Cellar. But what do these cabinets and cellars do that your average fridge or cupboard under the stairs doesn't? And what's the difference between the two types of storage?
Here at Taurus Wines we work closely with, and are happy to endorse, both EuroCave, who are the world leaders in making wine storage cabinets, and Spiral Cellars, who lead the field in creating complete cellaring systems.
Let's have a look at these two different ways of storing wine and see which one would work best for you, using the five key factors of perfect wine storage:
Much is made of temperature when it comes to storing wine, and for good reason. Sudden and constant fluctuations in a wine's temperature can destabilise it, leading to 'closed' and 'off' tasting bottles, while the biggest no-no is 'boiling' your wine. By 'boiling' we mean storing it anywhere where it could be exposed to temperatures over 20C - that's normal room temperature in many modern homes! There have been many times when customers have been disappointed in how smart wine has tasted, only to reveal to us that they keep it in a wine rack in the kitchen, next to the Aga! Or worse - in an uninsulated garage or loft that can be freezing in winter and up to 40C in summer.
Although wine can be stored for years, it's best to think of it like aging Cheddar - you certainly wouldn't let that freeze, or get too hot over the summer!
EuroCave mitigate the temperature issue by allowing purchasers to set their cabinet to between 10C and 16C, though between 12C and 14C is ideal. Here at Taurus ours are set at 12.5C. Although they are not classed as refrigerators (and you should never use them to store food) they do use electrically powered refrigeration systems to keep the cabinet at the same constant temperature, thus creating perfect cellaring conditions for your fine wine collection.
Spiral Cellars uses a more passive approach to temperature control, with the depth of the cellar being the main factor in maintaining a constant, cool temperature. A Spiral Cellar also uses a natural, passive ventilation system in the form of two air inlet/outlet pipes, in which heavier cool/humid air pushes the cellar air up towards the outlet pipe, maintaining the perfect temperature around the bottles and cases.
The next big buzzword in wine storage is humidity. A dry, warm environment will not only 'boil' the wine, but it'll dry out the cork too, leading to air (oxygen) getting into the wine and spoiling it. This is different to wine being 'corked' (that's an issue with TCA caused by mould in the cork itself), but still ruins wine due it effectively being 'open' for many years.
EuroCave ensures that perfect humidity is kept in its cabinets by including a hydro control unit in the base. This allows you to tweek the humidity within the cabinet, which should stay at between 50%-70%, with 60%-65% being the ideal range.
Spiral Cellars use the passive air temperature control system to bring in cool, humid air, while the reconstituted limestone bins are the perfect material to naturally retain humidity while not letting the bottles get damp and mouldy. We always recommend placing a humidity gauge in your cellar - be it a Spiral Cellar or the one in your home - so that you can monitor the humidity and introduce damper air if need be.
The yin to humidity's yang, ventilation is as important to storing wine as humidity is. Without good ventilation you will get mould in a humid environment. And mould not only ruins the aesthetic look of your bottles, but it's not great for corks either. Plus, unventilated spaces can trap odours, such as exhaust fumes in a garage or damp, mouldy outdoor gear festering in a cellar or understairs cupboard. Oh, and that's why we say you should never keep food in your wine cabinet - no one wants wine that tastes of egg mayonnaise or onions!
EuroCave has a charcoal filter that means no outside odours can get into the cabinet, even if you are keeping it in a garage.
Spiral Cellars uses the cellar's natural, passive ventilation system to move air around the cellar, meaning no one patch ever gets stale or mouldy.
As much as the Beach Boys want us to believe otherwise, there are no such things as good vibrations in the wine world! And mitigating vibration damage to wine is something storage companies take very seriously. Simply put, even the smallest continual vibrations can destabilise wine, causing it to spoil. Wine kept for a long time in a normal fridge will not only be kept at too cool a temperature, but the continual hum of the fridge will eventually ruin it.
EuroCave specialise in making cabinets that will keep your wine perfectly still. In the premium cabinets the shelves are referred to as 'les mains du sommelier', or the hands of the sommelier. This is because they're as gentle and caring to the bottles as those same hands would be, though unlike hands they're made from lovely, bouncy silicon which is able to absorb and eliminate all vibrations.
Spiral Cellars again has a more passive approach, and with no mechanical motors present in the cellar there is no vibration to contend with. The depth of the cellar also means the wine is away from road level, so traffic and household noise and vibrations aren't a problem.
Ever wondered by hugely expensive Crystal champagne is wrapped in orange cellophane? It's because the bottle itself is 'crystal' clear - unlike most dark green champagne bottles - and therefore the precious wine inside would be vulnerable to UV light without the Lucozade-style protection. And so with all wines - light, usually hand-in-hand with heat, can damage fine and old wines long term.
EuroCave cabinets can come with a solid door, which lets no light in at all, and although these can look smart (especially in wood-effect) some customers prefer to be able to see their bottles without having to open the door. That's why EuroCave's see-through glass doors are double glazed with filtering glass which blocks 99% of UV rays, keeping the wines safe.
Spiral Cellars offer similar practical solutions, with either solid tops that can be matched to your home's decor and flooring, or reinforced glass lids that are made of toughened glass and can be motorised, giving you that ultimate James Bond lair moment as the glass slowly opens to reveal your glorious, perfectly cellared, collection.
If you'd like more information about either EuroCave or Spiral Cellars, please don't hesitate to contact us, or find out more via these links.
EuroCave - available to view at Taurus Wines
Spiral Cellars - come and see the glass-topped, 2.5m deep cellar at our store.