Why storage is important
The world’s finest wines are those that are stored properly.
Fine wines (particularly red wines) benefit from medium to long-term ageing, where tannins, oak and fruit integrate and the wine reaches its optimum quality. However, if it is not stored properly, with the correct humidity, temperature, light conditions and lack of vibration, wine will deteriorate or mature too quickly.
Storage is not only important for wines destined to be drunk for pleasure, but also for wines bought by investors whose values increase with bottle-age - where proof of good storage (or provenance) is vital when selling the wine on.
How to store wine at home
Wine storage is a science, and to ensure that your wine reaches its full potential at home, there are five rules:
- Store in a cool, dark room, away from direct sunlight and heat (which ages wine prematurely by degrading organic matter, particular tannins).
- On its side, lying down. This helps keep corks moist, so they do not dry out and let in too much oxygen.
- Free from vibration. Normal household vibration is ok, but excessive movement will prevent sediments settling, speeds up chemical reactions and age the wine too quickly.
- At a constant temperature – ideally around 12-14°C. Temperature fluctuations caused, for example, by storing wine near a cooker or heating system, will cause the cork to expand and contract and allow too much oxygen in or ‘cook’ the wine. At higher temperatures your wine will age too quickly and not evolve properly. Seasonal fluctuations have little effect due to gradual changes in temperature.
- At a constant humidity (around 70-75%) – which also helps keep corks moist and prevents evaporation and consequently an undesirable increase in ullage (the gap between the bottom of the cork and the wine).
If it is difficult to store wine at exact temperatures and humidity without specialist temperature controlled wine cabinets and cellar conditioners. Eurocave is the market leader in the UK.
Specialist wine warehouses
For serious enthusiasts and investors, for whom provenance is vital, storing wine at a specialist warehouse is a good option. We store our fine wines at Octavian and London City Bond, the latter operates a service for private clients called Vinoteque (see below).
There are two main ways of storing wine - ‘in bond’ and ‘duty paid’:
In bond storage
Wine which is held in a bonded warehouse and has not passed through customs or been subjected to VAT or duty. This usually applies to en primeur wines. When you wish to release the wine you have to pay the duty (£20 per case for still wine) and VAT (on the wine price, including duty).
Duty paid storage
Wine may also be kept in specialist storage facilities where the duty and VAT has already been paid.
Vinothèque is a private storage facility operated by London City Bond and offers the following services:
- High level security provided 24/7 as well as checks on all staff and visitors to and from the site.
- Insurance (full replacement cost), including unexplained loss, and delivery anywhere within mainland UK.
- Full visibility of stock at all times over the internet, including condition reporting.
- Storage is charged at £12.24 + VAT per case per year or part.
Please note that these details were correct at the time of publication (Feb 2011), and whilst we feel confident, on the strength of both our own opinion and the opinions of valued customers, in recommending the services provided by Vinothèque, they are not a part of the service provided by Cadman Fine Wines, and as such, we cannot be held liable for any customer dissatisfaction.