The past few months have been some of the hottest and driest on record across the country. It seems that New York City has seen little to no break in the constant heat and humidity since late May. Each day, though, I still manage to take a walk immediately following my lunch. This bit of movement always makes me feel prepared for the afternoon, but it also raises my body temperature. Therefore, one of the first things I do after every walk is to take a trip to our cellar both to talk to our team and to cool down. On one of these recent visits I thought about how lucky we are to be able to offer wines stored at the perfect temperature. Even in this most sweltering of summers, our bottles remain at a level, cool temperature (between 54 and 58 degrees) until we can ship them later, after the heat has subsided.
The balance between temperature and wine is a tricky one. You see, the higher a temperature at which a wine is stored, the quicker the wine will age (and ultimately deteriorate). Some younger collectors who have many years of enjoyment ahead of them will keep their cellars around 52 degrees. This cool temperature will slow down the aging process and most definitely extend the life of the wine. Now, I also have some more seasoned collectors who prefer to keep their wine stored between 57 and 60 degrees, allowing their wines to mature at a slightly quicker pace. Believe it or not, those few degrees; consistently held and over a long period of time can make the desired—or undesired—difference.
Of course, everyone who knows wine knows that high temperatures have an unwelcome effect on wine. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have shown that the rate of chemical reaction in wine that causes aging and ultimately deterioration doubles every 18 degrees (this blog post from The Academic Wino offers a really clear understanding of the science). So that wine that you thought was safe resting at 70-75 degrees in a closet for a few years might end up being “cooked.” And believe me, it is a terrible feeling to open your wines with great excitement and anticipation, only to find a brown colored liquid that tastes and smells of stewed fruit.
Wine storage is a problem for many people, and not just New Yorkers, who suffer a legendary lack of space. However, I encourage you to try and keep those bottles in a cool dark space that is less than 60 degrees, at all costs. You paid good money for the provenance we guarantee; make sure to keep that integrity once the bottle reaches you. Sure, keeping them in a corner of your building’s basement or a small wine refrigerator may be less aesthetically pleasing than that wood rack in your hutch in the dining room. But it may lead to opening a series of bottles with company over before you find one that is still drinking the way it should be. And if you need some wine care solutions, IWM can help with that. We want you to love your wine, no matter the temperature outside.
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and keep cool.