Craft & Cork >> Winemaking

April 26, 2017 | By

Learn How to Age Your Wine with Elegance

One of the most rewarding experiences for craft winemakers is opening a bottle of our own craft wine that has been ageing gracefully in the wine cellar for months. And, it is even more rewarding to share that wine with friends and family – who are blown away by the quality! This week’s Craft & Cork will teach you what you need to know about ageing wine and how to get the most out of your craft wine once it is bottled.

Temperature: Like all chemical reactions, wine ageing will be affected by temperature. Temperature is the single most important variable that plays a role in the storage and ageing of wine. The warmer the temperature, the faster the wine will age and the colder the temperature, the slower it will age. Maintaining a constant temperature between 10°C-18°C (50°F-65°F) will ensure that the chemical reactions involved in wine ageing will proceed at a steady rate. Once you have set your cellar temperature, it is just as important to ensure that a constant temperature is maintained. If the temperature increases suddenly, the wine will expand in the bottle which will reduce the headspace (ullage) in the bottle. When the wine cools back down it will contract and pull oxygen into the bottle through the cork.

Humidity:  Once we have set our ideal cellar temperature we must ensure that the proper humidity is achieved. Humidity plays an important role in maintaining the moisture level within the cork. If moisture levels drop below 50% for more than 6 months, the cork will begin to dry out resulting in wine oxidation. Therefore it is crucial that a humidity content of between 50%-75% is maintained when ageing your wine.

Light : In addition to temperature and humidity in your wine cellar, you must also ensure that the cellar is as dark as possible when ageing your wine. Ultraviolet (UV) light will damage the wine by causing the breakdown of otherwise stable organic compounds in the wine. These organic compounds contribute to aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel of the wine. Even if you have your wine cellar away from natural light, fluorescent lights also produce UV light. If florescent lighting is your only option, just ensure that your bottles are protected by a physical barrier or the lights are only turned on when you are in the cellar.

Vibration: During the wine ageing process, especially for red wines, phenolic compounds in the wine will slowly interact with one another during many complex chemical reactions. During these reaction, the polymerization of anthocyanins (color pigments) and tannin will occur which will result in the reduction of astringency and softening of the wine’s mouthfeel. Excess vibrations during ageing will prevent these reactions from occurring, so keep your wine away from stairs and doors that are consistently used.

The above guide can be used to determine how long to age your RJS Craft Winemaking wine. If you don’t have access to a temperature controlled cellar, don’t worry! If you have a basement or a spot in your home that will not see large temperature swings each day, this is where you should be ageing your craft wine!

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8 thoughts on “Learn How to Age Your Wine with Elegance”

  1. Hi. . Ordered Cellar Master Merlot, 6.3 l and two boxes were cellular wrapped together. It was then put in larger box for delivery. The big box was a couple inches larger than the actual wine package. The large box and the two wine boxes were damage. No damage to the plastic wine bags. During delivery the wine was probably sliding around in the big box??? Suggestion I’ve ordered wine from other Co. and their larger box had a tighter fitting box. Hope this suggestion helps. Claude 780-623-2816

  2. How well does wine age in bags? I use the bags for all my wines as I have a space problem.
    I usually use 5 litre bags.

    1. Wine bags are good for short term wine storage (Less than 3 months). Beyond this point, the level of oxygen transfer into the wine through the bag spigot and bag itself will result in a loss of wine freshness and possible browning of the wine. If the 5 liter bags are your only option I would recommend adding an extra ¼ TSP of potassium metabisulfite per 23L (6 GAL) batch to help mitigate the effects of increased oxygen exposure.

      1. If I understand you are saying the spigot and the bag will allow oxygen through and result in loss of freshness. I already add the potassium mbs.
        Would this be the same using glass bottles with screw tops?
        I appreciate your comments and really want to make my wines last. So far I have no problems having stored in bags for 6 months +.
        As I understand it – the less oxygen available to the wine the better. Is this correct?
        Thanks for responding.

        1. Hi Wayne
          If you are looking to maximize the life of the wine after bottling then you will need to minimize oxygen exposure. Screw cap closures have the lowest oxygen transfer rate of all closures, as long as they are installed properly. If you are finding your wine is lasting up to six months in the bag then I would continue using this method of storing your wine. Try adding an extra 1/4 tsp of potassium metabisulfite per 23L or 6GAL of wine to protect against oxidation.

  3. If using the newer hard ‘CORKS” , is it still necessary to store wine on the side?

    1. Hi Catherine
      If you are referring to the “hard corks” as synthetic corks then you do not need to lay your bottles on their side. If you are using a natural cork, agglomerated cork, or twin disc then you should lay the bottles on their side 24 hours after inserting the corks.

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