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Wine Collecting

18thc and 19thc wine bottles
Wine collecting is becoming increasingly popular, and is gradually shaking off its traditional image of being a "snobby" past-time practised by the pompous upper classes.

You don't need to be a "connoisseur" of fine wines to be able to enjoy a wine collection, but it helps! Some people do collect with consumption in mind, whilst others may collect with investment in mind.

Collecting and Storing wine.

We buy wine because we like to drink it and enjoy the many subtle flavours that come with the different varieties that are produced around the world. For many of us we buy a bottle of a type we like or would like to try and it is then consumed within days of purchase or if we are lucky we manage to hang on to it for a few weeks, before popping that cork! Some of us take it a little more seriously and look to collect and store, so building our own modest cellar.

If you are of the latter then it is worth knowing how to store to get the best from them. As a general rule reds keep longer than whites. Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Bordeaux can be kept 10 to 12years, where as Beaujolais as little as 3 years. The flavours will become softened and will change with time due to the chemical reaction, taking place within the bottle. This sometimes is caused or helped by seepage through the cork allowing fractional amounts of oxygen to get into the wine. The greater the air space between the cork and the top of the wine, know as the ullage, chemical reaction will change, if only slightly, the wines flavour. Too much oxygen getting in because the cork has dried out and shrunk will deteriorate the wine rapidly. Great vintages are sometimes re-corked after a length of time. Plastic corks are now being widely used, and it is claimed, give a better and longer seal, and leave a fresher flavour without any additional back ground 'tang'' as cork sometimes give.
French cast iron, wine bottle ,circa early 1900s
Two of the most important facts in keeping wine are Temperature and Humidity.

Too high a temperature in storage around 80 degrees F. for up to 3 or 4 weeks will render it damaged for good. If the temperature fluctuates constantly that won't help either; it has to be constant ideally around 56 to 58 F degrees, with parameters between 50-60F considered acceptable.

Cold temperatures can cause problems just the same. Champagne should be only stored in a fridge to cool it prior to opening, anything longer and it should be kept with all the other wines, in a cool place.

Humidity is a less important factor but never the less to be considered. Too humid and the labels become damaged. If you are collecting for investment this will affect the value.

In time, with low humidity the cork could dry out and lose its suppleness at the end, rare but possible, resulting in bad contact allowing oxygen into the wine, in it's laid down position. An ideal humidity is around 70%.

If you would like to share any of your own experiences with our visitors with regards wine collecting, we will gladly publish them on this page and link to your website if applicable.

Looking for some useful wine resources on the internet? Here are a few sites I have found that may be of interest: