Although fine wine may be viewed by some as just another beverage, many feel what separates this liquid from other libations is the fact that wine is a living and breathing creation. Fine wines by nature are fragile, therefore proper storage conditions become a critical challenge and concern for the collector. Many experts today still disagree on whether wine actually has one ideal storage condition.
Many wine enthusiasts today accept that 55°F is the optimum cellaring temperature, yet did you know this was an arbitrarily chosen temperature? The selection of this specific temperature comes from the average European cellar condition. It was meant to be used as a “golden mean.” Wines neither age too quickly nor are deteriorated too rapidly at this temperature.
So, what does this all mean to the average collector? The reality is, there is no specific one temperature standard for the storage of wines, rather an acceptable range. Fine wines stored at 50°F simply will evolve more slowly than a wine stored at 55°F. In fact, cold temperatures short of freezing has shown little effect on wine other than slowing the development process. Ideally you want a wine to age and develop so temperatures too cold are not the collectors best option. Watch the U-Line video on Modifying Default Temperature
Savvy collectors are now also becoming more aware of the importance of other critical storage factors, such as humidity, vibration and light. An entire book could be written about the misconceptions of humidity and its usefulness to today’s storage of wine in the home storage unit. Humidity levels are critical in the cellars of wine producers where barrels need humidity to swell wine barrel staves reducing evaporation of the wine within. Many experts question the usefulness of humidity to a glass bottle with a cork further isolated by a wax covering or metal capsule.
What is less debatable is the lasting effects vibration and light has on fine wines. Because fine wine is a living, breathing, evolving liquid, vibration can have a deleterious effect, but only once the vibration level hits the point of cavitation. Simply put, if the vibration is not strong enough to suspend and displace the sediment within the bottle, vibration becomes a non-factor. On the other hand, the importance of shielding light from wines doesn’t receive enough attention.
Molecules in a high end wine are excited and activated when exposed to light. The UV end of this spectrum is particularly harmful to wines, browning and damaging wine properties. A colorful example of this light damage can be seen with old Sauternes from France which are bottled in clear glass. Even when subjected to sunlight for only a few short months, the pale yellow liquid turns to an amber brown.
So, with all these storage considerations, what’s a collector to do? In the end, the best investment a novice or veteran collector can make is in the choosing of a wine preservation unit manufactured, engineered and tested by an experienced company.
Sparkling Wine Mode – Temperature range between 38°F and 50°F (3°C and 10°C) with a set point of 45°F (7°C) which is designed to be celebration ready; this setting will keep Champagne bubbles chilled and is also perfect.
White Wine Mode – Temperature range between 45°F and 55°F (7°C and 13°C) with a set point of 50°F (10°C) which keeps white wines crisp, bright and ready for dinner or an afternoon with friends – from Chardonnay to Riesling, the whites will always strike the perfect note.
Red Wine Mode – Temperature range between 55°F and 65°F (13°C and 18°C) with a set point of 55° F (13°C) allows you to cradlethose special young reds, like Bordeaux, or boldZinfandels for long-term storage or set the temperature a little warmer for maintaining your everyday Cabernets at your preferred serving temperature.
At U-Line, We understand proper storage is critical for wine. The U-Select® Control available in the Modular 3000 Series Wine Captain® Models creates cellar-like conditions to maximize the preservation of wine. With digitally controlled convection cooling, these models consistently maintain a precise and stable environment, within 1°F of the set point temperature, providing optimal preservation for your prized Cabernet or a bottle of fine Champagne.
The U-Line Wine Captain® Models are available in 18″(45cm), 24″(60cm) and 36″(90cm) sizes. U-Line’s Modular 3000 Series Wine Captain® Models provide ample space for your wines. Two wine racks per zone accommodate larger diameter bottles, such as Champagne and many of the newer bottles. Our unique wine rack design cradles various shapes and sizes of bottles safely in place.
U-Line offers the widest selection of Wine Captain® Models, including a variety of sizes, features and temperature management systems to accommodate your preservation needs and personal taste.
About Dave Barna
Dave Barna has been a wine collector since 1979 and boasts a high quality collection of approximately 1,000 bottles. His storied collection contains wines dating back to the 1700′s, and wines so exceptional that they’re registered with Christie’s in London to ensure a formal record of their current location. Dave is recognized as an expert in Ports and Madeiras and is active in international wine auctions. In addition, his published contributions can be found in many epicurean magazines.
Though his extensive wine collection is what Dave is most known for, he also enjoys collecting books, mostly American “First Editions.” Dave Barna has been married for 26 years and the proud father of two daughters. He also enjoys Corvettes and motorcycling.