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THE BASICS
 
TASTING A WINE
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
WHAT DRINKS GO WITH WHAT FOOD?
HOW DO I ESTABLISH MY OWN WINE CELLAR?
RESPONSIBLE HOSTING TIPS
 
HOW DO I ESTABLISH MY OWN WINE CELLAR?
 

THE PERFECT CELLAR
The ideal wine cellar is roomy, airy, dark and is free from vibration. It’s a crisp, consistent 12 degrees Celsius inside, with 45% humidity.

Of course, most people simply don’t have the space or resources to construct a perfectly controlled cellar. As an alternative, consider a cupboard, a closet or a basement, and try to meet as many of these criteria as possible:

TEMPERATURE
A cool (between 10-14 degrees Celsius) storage area is best; although, wine can survive in environments up to 24 degrees Celsius.

More important than the actual temperature is the consistency of temperature. Abrupt changes in temperature can ruin a wine.

In general, red wines are less susceptible to heat damage than white wines.

HUMIDITY
Make sure you give your cellar proper ventilation. Too little, and the air turns stale and musty – air that eventually permeates the cork and imparts a mouldy taste to your wine.

Wines need some humidity to blossom and keep the cork from drying out. Too much humidity won’t harm most wines.

LIGHT
The less light, the better. Long term light exposure damages wine, and can bake or oxidize what’s in the bottle. Coloured glass bottles offer some protection, but total darkness is ideal for long term storage.

VIBRATION
Place your wines in a rack or on a shelf away from vibrations that agitate and age wine prematurely.

STORAGE
Always store still and sparkling wines on their sides. This keeps the cork from drying out, which allows air to seep past and spoil the wine. In the case of sparkling wines, the bubbly carbon dioxide can be released, leaving the wine flat.

Fortified wines, with the exception of vintage port, and spirits closed with corks should be placed standing up. The alcohol can seep through the cork in these situations. Also stand any wine closed with plastic/metal stoppers or screw caps to avoid possible leakage.

Store your white and sparkling wines on the lower, cooler shelves. Reds are stored on the shelves above. Fortified wines and spirits are best suited for the top shelves.

THE AGE OF WINES
Wines come in all sorts of aging categories. Some improve with age, while many others are ready to drink as soon as they’re bottled. Take care in aging wines. A quality wine can take decades to grow or mature; however, wait too long and some wines fall apart altogether.

Vintage charts can be a real help. These general guides describe specific wines, and can include taste analysis and an overview of aging potential. Look for charts in wine magazines, books, newspapers and on the Internet.

 
     
 
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