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Before You Taste
 
arrow Main arrow History arrow Before You Taste arrow Tasting arrow Wine Making
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Storing
There are a few key elements that are critical to creating the ideal environment for storing wine. Perhaps the most important factor is maintaining an optimal temperature. The ideal temperature range for wine storage is anywhere between 50°F and 55°F, although a room maintaining a temperature between 40°F and 65°F can be sufficient. It is also important that any change in temperature is moderate. Rapid fluctuations in temperature can cause damage to the wines and cause them to age prematurely. Wines will generally age faster at warmer temperatures. For example, a wine stored at 70°F may change approximately twice as fast as wine stored at an average temperature of 52°F. However, if wines are forced to mature too quickly, it is not allowed to develop properly and its quality can deteriorate rapidly. Also, white wines tend to be much more influenced by temperature problems than red wines. In addition to temperature, a proper level of humidity should be maintained. Although this will not impact the wine itself directly, humidity can have an impact on the bottle corks. Humidity is a measure of the relative amount of water vapor in the air. Low levels of humidity can cause corks to dry out and allow air to filter into the bottle, oxidizing the wine. An ideal relative humidity reading is around 70%.
Lighting is also an important factor in creating a suitable wine storage environment. Wine should never be exposed to direct sunlight. Ultraviolet light can result in rapid oxidation and the premature aging of wine, especially in wines bottled in clear glass. Sparkling wines seem to be most susceptible to light than other wines, although it’s important to note, that direct sunlight will negatively impact any type of wine and whether it is bottled in dark or clear glass.
Lighting is also an important factor in creating a suitable wine storage environment. Wine should never be exposed to direct sunlight. Ultraviolet light can result in rapid oxidation and the premature aging of wine, especially in wines bottled in clear glass. Sparkling wines seem to be most susceptible to light than other wines, although it’s important to note, that direct sunlight will negatively impact any type of wine and whether it is bottled in dark or clear glass.
Wines should also never be stored upright. As mentioned above, it is important that the cork remain swollen against the neck of the bottle. If storing wine upright, the cork will most likely begin to dry out and shrivel. This will allow air to filter inside the bottle and oxidize the wine. When a bottle is stored on its side, the wine is allowed to remain in contact with the cork, keeping it moist, and thus, preventing it from drying out and allowing air inside the bottle.
Finally, storing wine in an environment that experiences constant vibration can harm the wine. This can be caused by heavy machinery, nearby roadways or public transportation, or even persistent and excessive sound. Ideally, once wines are placed in a particular area for storage, they should not be moved until it is ready to be opened. Lack of calmness can disturb a red wine’s sediment and permanently damage the wine.
Drinking Temperature
Wine temperature has a significant impact on the taste and smell of wine. Even small variations in temperature can have a dramatic effect. The acidity, fruitiness, and balance are all heavily influenced. Warmer temperatures accentuate a wine’s alcohol and can give wine a gritty, unrefined character, especially in whites. Cooler temperatures give wine a lighter taste, but if served too cold, can dull the wine to a point where there is practically no taste at all. Generally, most wines are best served just below room temperature. However, different wines call for different serving temperatures. Fuller red wines are best served between 60°F and 65°F. Lesser reds and complex white wines are ideal at 50 - 55°F. Less complex white wines are best at 45 - 50°F. Sweet white wines and Champagne should be served between 40°F and 45°F. Although, red wines that have a more fruity character and low in tannins, are an exception to the higher red wine serving temperature. To heighten their fruitiness, such wines are better served at cooler temperatures similar to sweet white wines.
Aerating and Decanting
Allowing wine to “breathe” is the process of mixing wine with the surrounding air in order to open up a wine’s aromas and improve its overall flavor characteristics. Red wines typically benefit most from aerating prior to serving. However, white wines will also open up as a result of exposure to oxygen. Young wines with high levels of tannins generally require the most time to aerate, which could be up to an hour. Most wines will improve with about 20 minutes of aeration. A big misconception in the aeration process is the belief that wines will mix sufficiently with air simply by uncorking the bottle and allowing it to sit for a while. There is insufficient surface area at the top of the bottle to allow enough air to mix and make contact with the wine. Thus, the better options are to let wine sit either in a decanter or wine glass prior to drinking.
A decanter is a large container with a wide opening at the top allowing more air to make contact with the wine. Delicate wines that are generally at least 10 years old are prime candidates for decanting. In addition to providing a more suitable climate for aeration, decanting helps isolate the clear wine from any sediment that may be present. Prior to pouring the wine into a decanter, the bottle should be left in an upright position for at least several hours allowing the sediment to slowly settle toward the bottom of the bottle. Then take a lit candle or lamp and hold it underneath and perpendicular to the neck of the wine bottle. Slowly pour the wine into the decanter and as the last quarter of the wine is emptied, carefully check for any sediment that may appear. Once any sediment is observed, stop pouring so that all the sediment remains in the bottle and only the clear wine is left in the decanter.
Pouring
Wine glasses should be filled no more than halfway, allowing adequate room for the wine to be swirled. This will bring out the wine’s flavors and aromas as it mixes with the surrounding air. However, sparkling wines can poured more than halfway to allow a longer bead of bubbles to rise to the top. They should also be poured along the side of the glass to preserve bubbles. Still wines are best poured by aiming toward the center of the glass. The bottle should be twisted slightly as it is tilted upright to minimize any dripping.
 
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