Buying wine and drinking wine are the easiest components of experiencing wine, but what about the hard parts? What about proper aging, storage, decanting and serving? Understanding and practicing good wine keeping techniques can completely transform the way you enjoy fine wines and we’re here to help!
Temperature: Both red and white wines should be stored between 55-60ºF, with less than a 10º fluctuation in temperature. Cooler temperatures help to maintain the wine and allow it to develop properly within the bottle. Don’t let it get too cold, however. If the wine freezes, it could expand enough to push the cork out.
Humidity: Ideal humidity for wine storage is between 50-80%. Environments that are too arid might dry out the cork and allow air to seep into the bottle, while too much moisture can encourage mold growth. Humidity is usually only a problem in extreme climates, such as the desert or tropics.
Darkness: Wine is sensitive to intense light. Any direct or bright light source, especially the sun, can break down the proteins in wine, causing wine to prematurely age or degrade.
Duration: Not all wines are created equal. Some wines can last decades, whereas others should be enjoyed within a few years. Here is what we recommend for Carr varietals:
Pinot Gris ~ 3 to 8 years
Chardonnay ~ 4 to 9 years
Grenache ~ 5 to 10 years
Syrah ~ 6 to 11 years
Pinot Noir ~ 4 to 12 years
Cabernet Franc ~ 6 to 12 years
What is decanting? Decanting is the act of transferring wine from the bottle into another vessel for the purpose of aerating the wine, or to remove sediment.
Why decant? Decanting wine helps the wine come in contact with more oxygen, which increases complexity and boosts the flavors present in the wine. In older red wines, decanting also helps to separate out any sediment buildup. As wine ages, the color pigments and tannins bond together and fall out of solution, creating sediment. Although harmless, sediment can be in the way, or make the wine taste bitter, astringent or overall less enjoyable.
When to decant? Decanting wine is not always necessary. For example, white wines and lighter bodied reds such as Pinot Noir will usually not benefit as much as fuller bodied reds. Decanting full red wines will help bring out and soften the flavors in the wine quicker, while allowing any volatile substances to evaporate. Decanting older bottles of wine will have this same effect, in addition to removing sediment at the same time.
How to decant? If you are decanting wine for the purpose of aerating it, simply pour the wine from the bottle into your decanter of choice, and voilà! Let this sit anywhere from 5 minutes to two hours to allow the wine to breathe. To decant an older wine for the purpose of removing sediment, start by setting the bottle upright for at least 24 hours in order for the sediment to slide to the bottom of the bottle. Pour the wine into the decanter slowly, without stopping. Stop as soon as you see the sediment reach the neck of the bottle. Sediment isn’t always chunky and obvious – the wine’s color can become cloudy, or you may see what looks like specks of dust.
There is a reason why you crave a crisp white wine on a hot summer day, or a comforting glass of red by the fire on a chilly night. Serving temperatures vary by varietal, and serving wine at the proper temperature helps bring out all of a wine’s true flavors. Here is our guide of serving temperatures for different Carr varietals:
65-68ºF – Full Bodied Reds: Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Grenache, and Merlot
58-65ºF – Light or Medium Bodied Reds: Pinot Noir and Sangiovese
55-60ºF – Full Bodied Whites: Chardonnay and Viognier
48-55ºF – Light Whites: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and dry Rosé
45-50ºF – Sweet and Sparkling: Late Harvest Viognier and Sparkling Wine