How to Store Wine — JENNY
Jonathan Bauer-Monneret, named Best Sommelier in France at the age of 29, insists conservation is an important part of the production process. “Wine is a natural product that evolves over time; controlling its conservation prevents it from deteriorating. It’s also one of the few products that improves with age, and the way in which it’s preserved is key to the quality of its flavor.”
Since the way wine is conserved is crucial, we wanted to know more about the techniques that were developed for this purpose, both today and in the past. What are the criteria for optimal conservation? Which techniques can be followed at home? And what are the latest innovations in wine conservation?
Wine Conservation Through the AgesThe conservation of wine is a concern as old as its manufacture. The Greeks sealed their vessels with resin, an additive that also altered the taste and improved preservation. There are traces of this practice today with the Greek retsina, to which resin is added. However, it was undoubtedly the Romans who developed a greater expertise in this area, as evidenced by the remains of Roman cellars found around the Mediterranean basin as well as by the author Pliny the Elder, who devoted large parts of his encyclopedia Naturalis Historia to wine and viticultural techniques. Placed in amphorae (two-handled, narrow-necked jars) sealed with cork, the wine was not kept cool in the basement, but rather stored in a room located above the fireplace. Exposed to hot fumes, it went through an early form of pasteurization, which allowed it to keep for decades and promoted its alcohol concentration. The Celts added their own little revolution in terms of wine conservation and transportation with the invention of the wooden barrel. However, wine conservation was not a priority then – not even in the Middle Ages, when production increased markedly. This is because co...
The conservation of wine really saw a turning point under the leadership of Louis XIV, who reigned in France from 1643 to 1715. At the time, huge exports to England were taking place. But a political crisis between the countries – during the Glorious Revolution – hindered the exports and thus required improvements in the wine conservation technology. In addition, Louis XIV, an amateur enthusiast of great vintages, emphasized the search for better-tasting wines, asking wineries to improve their grape varieties. Correspondingly, the bottling process and use of cellars became widespread in the wineries in order to better store the wine. This French know-how was soon exported to the rest of Europe. Today, all major global wineries have their maturing cellar or storehouse, in which the wine is “aged” to develop its best aromas. “The cellar is underground and the temperature varies very little there. The storehouse, for its part, is located at ground level,” explains sommelier Jonathan Bauer-Monneret. “It depends on regions and traditions. Storehouses are a specialty of the Bordeaux region.”Tradition requires storing the wine in oak barrels, which guarantees additional flavors. Stainless...
The Golden Rules of Wine Conservation in a CellarJonathan Bauer-Monneret works at Spring, the Parisian restaurant of famed chef Daniel Rose, where he manages a cellar containing 600 different wines. As sommelier, he’s acutely aware of the daily changes to his wines, and knows the ideal settings for their conservation. He points out that, although a cellar is the best way to conserve wine, people didn’t always have this option in the past. “In the 18th and 19th centuries, individuals would ‘chamber’ the wine. They kept it in the coldest room in the house, that is to say, the room that was kept cold to keep heating costs down.” Bauer-Monneret’s advice for the modern wine enthusiast, though, is to, if at all possible, keep wine in a cellar in the following conditions:Stable temperature “Wine does not do well with temperature variations. This is why the temperature of a cellar (55-57°F) is ideal. If your cellar is at 59°F, or even at 63°F, this is not a problem, as long as the temperature remains stable. The wine will simply age faster than in a cooler cellar and will not keep as long.”...
Mid-range humidity “Humidity is crucial. Bottles should be stored lying down, so the cork remains moist, and the cellar should show a level of relative humidity ranging from 60 to 75 percent. If the cellar is damper than this, it’s not a problem for the wine, but it is a problem for the cases, which may rot, as well as for the labels, which will peel off. My tip is to put plastic film around them! However, if the cellar is too dry, then the cork will dry and the wine may leak. Too much oxygen will then penetrate the bottle and change the qualities of the drink. The wine will oxidize and turn sour.”Steady surface “Wine is alive and it doesn’t deal well with vibrations. If you move it too much, it closes. Some purists argue that even the bar code on the labels might harm the wine; it apparently creates a magnetic field that rattles the bottles slightly. It’s also never a good idea to turn the bottles. Keep them with the labels upright, so you always know where the different types of wine are located.”Low light “Light is another one of wine’s enemies. It separates its elements, it transforms it, and the early harmony is lost. In the jargon, we say that a wine that has been exposed...
If you keep your wine in a cellar and follow these tips, there’s a good chance the wine will improve and develop its best aromas. Nonetheless, despite all this, you may be disappointed in the end. This does not necessarily depend on your cellar, but on the fragility of natural wines, which can simply ferment and change. “Choosing a bottle from the cellar is a bit like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates,” Jonathan jokes. “You never know what you’re going to get…”
Modern Alternatives to the Cellar So, are refrigerated wine cabinets a better alternative to traditional wine cellars? They have become popular since the early 2000s. “In the 1990s, the concept of a wine [cabinet] was first developed to meet the needs of professional establishments — cafés, hotels, restaurants — who used vitrines to cool the wine. Then the concept moved to private individuals,” says Richard Guillorel, CEO of the Climadiff, La Sommelière and Avintage wine cabinet brands, which are market leaders in France.
For a wine connoisseur, is it heresy to use a wine fridge instead of a traditional cellar?“I find they’ve brought something new and complementary to the traditional cellar,” sommelier Jonathan Bauer-Monneret says. “There are two variants. The first are the conservation cabinets, which have a uniform temperature (up to 64°F) and which mitigate vibrations. Wine will not improve in them, but it will not age badly either. The second are the service cellars, which have areas with different temperatures suitable for each type of wine: red at between 64 and 68°F, white at between 46 and 53°F.”
Are conservation wine cabinets a credible alternative to traditional cellars?“Changes in housing, especially in cities, mean that people don’t usually have a dedicated place to store and age their wines,” Richard Guillorel explains. “Wine fridges thus replace natural cellars, because they replicate the essential elements, namely: a constant temperature of 53 to 55°F, controlled humidity of 55 to 75 percent, no vibrations, no light because of solid doors, cycled air with carbon filters and a suitable means of storage, with shelves that match the shapes of different bottles.”
How can people choose the right wine cellar for them? Wine is a pleasure, a passion, even a luxury for some. As such, in order to keep their precious beverages in the best condition, some enthusiasts are willing to spend a lot. To display his best wines, one Nashville resident didn’t hesitate to build a modern “cathedral”, in which the acrylic walls forming storage cells are lit by LEDs (pictured).“It depends on the intended wine consumption (temporary storage or ageing for a long period); the desired capacity (6-325 bottles for our brands); where it’s to be placed (garage, kitchen, etc), and the budget,” Richard Guillorel says. “For a good wine cooler, it costs €700 to €2,500 for a high-capacity product, but there are service cellars for between €400 and €700. Expect a lifespan of 10 to 15 years for this type of product.”
Will there be any innovations in the field of wine storage?“Our priorities in development are energy savings, with cellars in energy class A with glass doors, and A+ class with solid doors. We’re also designing cellars that can be seamlessly integrated into kitchens [such as the Avintage AV7XK, pictured],” Guillorel says. “The electronic systems that allow for better control of the cellars, as well as the alarms that ensure the safety of the wine, are also part of our innovations.”As for professionals, it’s at the wine-making stage where the most surprising innovations are to be found. Hielscher Ultrasonics, a German company and world leader in the field of high-quality ultrasonic devices, experiments with the “sonication” of wines, namely its accelerated maturation by exposure to ultrasounds. “Through sonication, wine becomes a homogeneous liquid with an extended lifespan in a very short processing time. This homogeneity allows for a higher interaction between the molecules and, thus, a more complete molecular change. This results in an improvement in both taste and quality,” the company affirms.
Nothing is more surprising, however, than the experiment conducted since 2007 by the oenologist and agronomist Emmanuel Poirmeur, who heads the Egia Tegia winery in the Basque country. Poirmeur ferments his white, red and rosé wines twice in tanks submerged to a depth of 15 meters in the Bay of Saint-Jean-de-Luz for 6 to 9 months (pictured). His first vintage to receive such an ocean fermentation, a slightly sparkling white with citrus aromas, was named Dena Dela – “no matter what” in Basque – as a snub to those who did not believe in his project. This idea of maturing the wine in the sea is based on real discoveries reported by Jim “Bear” Dyke Jr., president of the Mira Winery, a California wine producer. According to him, professional divers looking for shipwrecks in the Bay of Charleston, South Carolina, discovered roughly 100-year-old wines. Finding them delicious, they came up with the idea of conserving wine under the sea. Dyke made this one of his development priorities with his company, Aquaoir, experimenting in ocean fermentation with his Cabernet Sauvignon. Customers who bought two bottles, one having spent 13 months under the sea and the other having been aged in a tradi...
TO BE DECIDED: WE MIGHT USE THE FOLLOWING AS A SEPARATE “ROOM OF THE DAY” I totally agree, Karen – would be better alone and make a nice separate piece (with this caption forming the head and intro) SAA Professional Opens the Doors to his Wine CellarGuillaume Boulanger is a great fan of sports, music and wine. This last passion has led him to take over and develop the family business of wine cellar installations, branded Hélicave, of which he has become the first worldwide installer. These modern underground cellars with instantly recognizable designs are similar to spiral staircases, whose walls, formed into wine racks, are used for stocking bottles. Frenchman Georges Harnois had the idea in 1977 when he saw the masterful spiral staircase at the famous Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard. Inspired, he developed a prototype, then put his design into production, for which he won the Gold Medal in the Lépine invention competition. There are now some 30,000 Hélicave cellars around the world, including the ones Guillaume Boulanger has installed. Boulanger agreed to give us a tour of his cellar, halfway between tradition and modernity....
Room at a GlanceWho lives here: Guillaume Boulanger, 47, a great fan of wine, which he likes to share with his friends; he’s the main installer of Hélicave in the worldLocation: In the basement of his house in Seine-et-Marne, near Paris, which he has transformed into a lounge space, with a drum kit, video projection screen and gymSize of the cellar: Hélicave cellars are either round or oval; this one is round, 2 meters in diameter and 2.5 meters deep. Manufacturer: Hélicave; the manufacturing is French, from concrete blocks made exclusively by the Bonna Sabla companyBudget: This model cost €20,000, which puts it between the €10,000 entry model and the high-class €40,000 model with all options installed
Where did your passion for wine come from?“Like many bourgeois French homes, we had the culture of good wines that went with good dishes,” Boulanger says of growing up surrounded by wine.However, he himself discovered wine late. As a marathon runner in his 20s, he didn’t drink. Nevertheless, with an aristocratic grandmother and a father from Bordeaux, who himself installed wine cellars, Boulanger soon became impregnated with the knowledge of good wines.
What are the advantages of this cellar? “Although it’s compact, it can store a large number of bottles,” Boulanger says. “Since it’s completely buried underground, it avoids any vibration, keeps a stable temperature and has a humidity of 70%. The air is naturally ventilated and it keeps the wines in dim light and protected from UV, which prevents them from darkening themselves and also stops the light altering their taste. I took the option of installing a glass door that I found pretty, but it’s specially made and filters UV rays. “This type of cellar is also practical: it can be placed anywhere, even in damp or dripping basements, since it’s equipped with a waterproof membrane. It’s construction does not take longer than a week.”
How are your bottles stored?“It took me two months to fill my cellar by going to get my favorite wines from small farmers listed in my address book,” Boulanger recalls. “Each wine has a story and I like to become familiar with it. In my basement, the aperitif bottles with metal caps are stored vertically in the top racks, where the temperature varies more.”
“The wine bottles are laid down in the intermediate racks, numbered according to their eastings and their ordinates,” Boulanger says. “In there, I stock the magnums, because they are wines that should be kept, as well as the champagnes, which do not like draughts. I label my racks when all of the bottles in them are identical. Otherwise, I place a label on the neck of the bottle.”
How do you manage your wine cellar?“I use an app on my phone to photograph the label of any wine I like in a restaurant in order to find the references, reviews and pricing information. It helps me develop my knowledge of wines,” Boulanger explains. “At home, I don’t have any software to manage my bottles, but rather a wine book that helps me keep a record of what I buy. For each wine, I write in my book whether I opened it in advance, decanted it, chambered it, etc. I also write the dish with which I drank it, and what I thought. I keep my best bottles after I’ve emptied them: I write on the date on which I drank them and with whom, and keep them as souvenirs.”