Question about wine storage

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robertocusato
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Question about wine storage

#1 Post by robertocusato » September 25th, 2020, 5:16 pm

Hi all,

I have a question regarding storing wines.

As some of you might know, in the past couple of years I have accumulated close to 200 bottles. About 130 of them - the more age-worthy - sit into my wine fridge, while the remaining ones (for more immediate drinking) sit into a dark closet with temperature ranging between 69-73F (depending on the time of the year) and humidity between 50-65%. While most of the wines there are 20-30 dollar bottles I plan to drink within 6-9 months, due to spillage I have some more worthy bottles sitting there (like Falesco Montiano 2011 or Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay).

I had stored there three bottles of San Guido Guidalberto for about 15 months, and I then opened one of the three bottles as I was worried it would be bad but it tasted fresh and in great conditions. My question is: how long would you store whites and reds in those conditions for?

I am working on another wine fridge that should come in by Christmas and should solve most of the issues.

Thanks!

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J D o v e
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Re: Question about wine storage

#2 Post by J D o v e » September 25th, 2020, 6:16 pm

Couple of sides to this coin:

On the bright side, when I moved to CT in 2012, I moved 95% of my cellar to offsite storage. The remainder — mostly ‘why did I buy this again?’ — were left in a basement that ranged widely in temp from probably 60 in the winter to 74 in the summer. These wines were consumed over the course of 6 years until I decided to build a cellar. I never noticed any issues. This included wines that were presumably more fragile, like 2002 Chablis, 1996 Chinons, and such. No issues.

Now, the flip side. I belonged to a tasting group for 15 years or so and one of the guys I tasted with in that group and socially had a passive cellar. He had wines going back into the seventies. I got familiar with wines that he might bring where another friend might have the same 20 year old Bordeaux stored properly. Invariably, the properly cellared wines — once they’re 10 years old or so — would show better. My opinion on this is based on a fair bit of experience and it’s this:

- Wine is more resilient than most collectors think.
- Fine wine aged improperly generally ages faster and typically doesn’t reach the same heights
- Delicate fine wine aged improperly starts to show flaws at some point
- The more robust the wine, the longer it takes for the issue to become apparent

I wouldn’t worry about storing anything at 72 degrees for a few years if I had no option. I’d be careful not to keep it too long that way. I’m not sure where the issue starts, but I’d be reluctant to store fine wine for any extended period above ~64 degrees max. For me, the colder the better if you’re younger.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#3 Post by Brian Glas » September 25th, 2020, 7:03 pm

I have a passive cellar in Seattle. It ranges from 55 to 70. Just had a 1995 Clerc Milon held for 20 years. Tasted great when I popped in last July.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#4 Post by Chris Seiber » September 26th, 2020, 12:26 am

The short answer is don’t worry in the slightest about those bottles being in passive storage for 9 months, or several years.

Longer term with more special bottles, it maybe/probably makes some difference.

We all stress too much about shipping and storage temps here. We’re Berserkers, it makes sense. But wine is pretty hardy.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#5 Post by T. Williams » September 26th, 2020, 2:34 am

I have a bottle of 2010 Stags Leap Cask 23 that was purchased on release and has been stored passively for the first 6 years of its life, stored in a cheap wine fridge the next 2 years, and has only now moved into my conditioned wine cellar. I'm going to pop it in a few weeks and I'll let you know how things go. I'm assuming they will be splendid!

*Footnote: The bottle in that same time period moved from DC to Atlanta to Philadelphia.

**Footnote 2: I had passive storage for the majority of my wines, up until about a month ago, and never one attributed bad bottles to my own home storage conditions. Many bad bottles over the years but never consistent enough to blame my cellar.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#6 Post by Arv R » September 26th, 2020, 6:01 pm

I've had bottles (of the same estate/vintage) at the same time with different provenance -- 55F active, passive 50-70F, 70F room temp for a few years etc. -- and the difference grows with time, quality, and body of the wine. Not much difference on a 1 yr old OZ ooze monster, but definitely bigger differences with a 20 year cru classe.

I would not go hyper over the differences, but if you really want to experience the benefits of cellaring, make the effort to find proper storage.

Rich Gold's book on cellar design/principles gives a lot of good advice, and is worth the read.
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Re: Question about wine storage

#7 Post by David Glasser » September 27th, 2020, 8:16 am

J Dove wrote:
September 25th, 2020, 6:16 pm

- Wine is more resilient than most collectors think.
- Fine wine aged improperly generally ages faster and typically doesn’t reach the same heights
- Delicate fine wine aged improperly starts to show flaws at some point
- The more robust the wine, the longer it takes for the issue to become apparent

I wouldn’t worry about storing anything at 72 degrees for a few years if I had no option. I’d be careful not to keep it too long that way. I’m not sure where the issue starts, but I’d be reluctant to store fine wine for any extended period above ~64 degrees max. For me, the colder the better if you’re younger.
This has been my experience exactly.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#8 Post by Frank Drew » September 27th, 2020, 3:52 pm

Another way to look at it: You’ve been offered two different lots of good quality, aged wines, 10-20+ years old for the most part. The lots are priced pretty much the same and you can only afford one lot.

Lot A had been stored from purchase at 55-60 degrees, guaranteed. Lot B has been stored consistently in the mid-70s, but guaranteed no warmer.

Would anyone here be indifferent regarding which lot to buy? I know which one I’d want. Every year I pay money I really don’t have in storage costs for the good but not grand wines I’ve got; IMO, if you want the best from your wines, there’s upkeep to consider, like with children.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#9 Post by David Glasser » September 28th, 2020, 9:49 am

That's a reasonable perspective, Frank. It really comes down to what you want from the wines.

I agree that if you contemplate selling, it should be an advantage to list the lots as stored at 55 degrees since release. OTOH, auction houses don't always list the detailed history of storage temperatures this scenario assumes.

If you're buying wines to drink within a decade, it probably doesn't make a lot of difference. If you plan to drink them after more than 10 years of aging and want to experience the best that they can deliver, there is a difference (despite anecdotal reports of fabulous poorly-stored bottles) and it makes sense to store at controlled temps. Resale value shouldn't be a consideration if you don't plan to sell, but sometimes you don't know that you'll be selling down the road.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#10 Post by Paul @bbott » September 28th, 2020, 10:08 am

David Glasser wrote:
September 28th, 2020, 9:49 am

If you're buying wines to drink within a decade, it probably doesn't make a lot of difference.
I use professional storage for long term wines like most Bordeaux classed growths. A north facing, unheated space, with the wines in a covered stack for the shorter term, with the better bottles at the bottom for temperature stability. I was always told to look out for sudden changes in temperature, as being as harmful as higher temperatures.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#11 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » September 28th, 2020, 10:34 am

Wines made with out added sulfur typically need cellar temperature storage even short term. If a wine is made “traditionally “ non-cellar temperature storage shouldn’t be a problem for short to medium term.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#12 Post by David Glasser » September 28th, 2020, 10:39 am

Paul: Yes, rapid temperature swings are said to be bad. I'm not sure of the evidence or science behind that. I suspect the magnitude of the change is more important than the speed but am willing to be educated. Gas will expand the same amount if exposed to a 10-degree increase whether it occurs over a day or 6 months. Maybe a sudden increase might be more likely to interfere with the cork seal?

Tom, not just wines with no added sulfur but those prone to Brett can be affected by temps in the high 60s/low 70s over a relatively short period of time.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#13 Post by John Danza » September 28th, 2020, 11:48 am

David Glasser wrote:
September 28th, 2020, 9:49 am
That's a reasonable perspective, Frank. It really comes down to what you want from the wines.

I agree that if you contemplate selling, it should be an advantage to list the lots as stored at 55 degrees since release. OTOH, auction houses don't always list the detailed history of storage temperatures this scenario assumes.

If you're buying wines to drink within a decade, it probably doesn't make a lot of difference. If you plan to drink them after more than 10 years of aging and want to experience the best that they can deliver, there is a difference (despite anecdotal reports of fabulous poorly-stored bottles) and it makes sense to store at controlled temps. Resale value shouldn't be a consideration if you don't plan to sell, but sometimes you don't know that you'll be selling down the road.
Outstanding response. It's possible to kill a wine in a matter of hours if there's an unexpected temperature spike into the 80s. Any time I see a wine said to be stored in a passive cellar, I immediately pass.
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Re: Question about wine storage

#14 Post by Chris Seiber » September 28th, 2020, 12:38 pm

John Danza wrote:
September 28th, 2020, 11:48 am
David Glasser wrote:
September 28th, 2020, 9:49 am
That's a reasonable perspective, Frank. It really comes down to what you want from the wines.

I agree that if you contemplate selling, it should be an advantage to list the lots as stored at 55 degrees since release. OTOH, auction houses don't always list the detailed history of storage temperatures this scenario assumes.

If you're buying wines to drink within a decade, it probably doesn't make a lot of difference. If you plan to drink them after more than 10 years of aging and want to experience the best that they can deliver, there is a difference (despite anecdotal reports of fabulous poorly-stored bottles) and it makes sense to store at controlled temps. Resale value shouldn't be a consideration if you don't plan to sell, but sometimes you don't know that you'll be selling down the road.
Outstanding response. It's possible to kill a wine in a matter of hours if there's an unexpected temperature spike into the 80s. Any time I see a wine said to be stored in a passive cellar, I immediately pass.
A wine might be ruined if it's 80 degrees for a few hours? That sure isn't my experience, or anything close to anything I've ever heard.

I do agree with you that David's summation is an excellent one.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#15 Post by Kirk.Grant » September 28th, 2020, 5:41 pm

robertocusato wrote:
September 25th, 2020, 5:16 pm
Hi all,

I have a question regarding storing wines.

As some of you might know, in the past couple of years I have accumulated close to 200 bottles. About 130 of them - the more age-worthy - sit into my wine fridge, while the remaining ones (for more immediate drinking) sit into a dark closet with temperature ranging between 69-73F (depending on the time of the year) and humidity between 50-65%. While most of the wines there are 20-30 dollar bottles I plan to drink within 6-9 months, due to spillage I have some more worthy bottles sitting there (like Falesco Montiano 2011 or Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay).

I had stored there three bottles of San Guido Guidalberto for about 15 months, and I then opened one of the three bottles as I was worried it would be bad but it tasted fresh and in great conditions. My question is: how long would you store whites and reds in those conditions for?

I am working on another wine fridge that should come in by Christmas and should solve most of the issues.

Thanks!
I'm not uncomfortable with storing wines in passive conditions in my plan is to consume them in the next 1-2 years. In 2014 I had a 1988 Dom Perignon that had been stored in a kitchen, about 8 ft away from the stove, in a wooden rack. It was sublime...would it have tasted fresher if it was always in the basement...I'm sure. However, my friend opened was still one of the best aged Champagne experiences I've had. I store anything that I plan to age 3+ year or longer in one of three Eurocaves, but I've had great luck aging wines in my father's or friend's passive basement. If you're keeping the wines in a place with constant & cool temps, you should be fine. My friend's basement is regularly around 55-60 degrees. We've opened wines from the early 90's that have been there for the better part of 10-15 years & they're all still lovely wines. Wines are often more durable than many of us (myself included) believe.
Cellartracker:Kirk Grant

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Re: Question about wine storage

#16 Post by JLuch » October 15th, 2020, 11:54 am

This has always been a curious topic for me as I have always stored wine passively since I began "collecting." I started to love wine as soon as I was legally able to drink it and I am now 35 years old. However, despite my best efforts, there were always constraints on being able to afford enough quality wine to allow bottles to cellar longer than 5-6 years. In those cases, the wines were properly developed and tasted great. Most of the wines were California Cabernet, which are not delicate by any means.

The home I purchased in Northern New Jersey had an old canning/wine cellar (Italians) that was cinderblock and uninsulated, but would regularly maintain mid 50s in the winter and high 60's in the summer. I have since insulated the cellar with rigid insulation and a weather proof door, to try and make things more consistent. There are no daily temperature fluctuations, only seasonal.

I am finally at the point where the pace of wine coming in is greatly exceeding the pace at which I am drinking it, so I hope to get 10 years or more out of the bottles I have, if applicable. Varietals include Cabernet, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sangio, Chardonnay and are roughly 75% domestic and 25% foreign. I had considered getting a chiller unit, but I often struggle of whether it is necessary. I understand that the cost of a chiller unit may be small compared to a wine collection, but I also have a lot of competing home renovations that require $$. Especially if my drinking/cellaring habits don't warrant the expense.
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Re: Question about wine storage

#17 Post by Neal.Mollen » October 15th, 2020, 12:59 pm

Nothing in the OP would give me the slightest concern. There was an article long since lost to the web about Ch Margaux' (or was it Mouton's) passive cellar which regularly got into the low 60s, and had bottles well back into the 19th century. In your position, I'd fill my cooler to capacity with my most age-able wines (additional mass will make cooling more efficient and stable) and keep the rest in the darkest and coolest spot available, and not give it another moment's thought.

Now, to answer Frank's question, if everything else were equal I'd prefer the wine stored in a temp controlled space, but you are talking about selling the wine and the wines you are apparently talking about have no long term future anyway.

Don't sweat it.
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Re: Question about wine storage

#18 Post by Chris Seiber » October 15th, 2020, 3:08 pm

Neal.Mollen wrote:
October 15th, 2020, 12:59 pm
Nothing in the OP would give me the slightest concern. There was an article long since lost to the web about Ch Margaux' (or was it Mouton's) passive cellar which regularly got into the low 60s, and had bottles well back into the 19th century. In your position, I'd fill my cooler to capacity with my most age-able wines (additional mass will make cooling more efficient and stable) and keep the rest in the darkest and coolest spot available, and not give it another moment's thought.

Now, to answer Frank's question, if everything else were equal I'd prefer the wine stored in a temp controlled space, but you are talking about selling the wine and the wines you are apparently talking about have no long term future anyway.

Don't sweat it.
Perfectly said.

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Re: Question about wine storage

#19 Post by Mark Fister » October 15th, 2020, 6:43 pm

Another consideration might be what options for professional storage exist near you and how much does it cost? Living in Chicago, there are several places to store wine. A 24 case locker costs less than $400 a year. Unless one has a reasonably large living space and is willing to spend the money for a good cellar or wine refrigerators, this is a pretty economical alternative.

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