Wine is an important part of the offering of any restaurant or bar. One of the most profitable items on the menu, it is vital that each glass, carafe, or bottle is as delicious as the last. Whilst modern wine keg storage systems offer a hassle free and economic way of storing and serving wine, how do you ensure that bottled wine delights the customer each time? How do you balance the need to store wine correctly whilst creating an appealing display? Here are our top tips.
Keep your wine at a constant temperature, around 12-13 degrees
Red, white or rose. Still or sparkling. Wine storage needs to be in a cool environment and at a constant temperature. Fluctuating temperature can negatively affect the chemical processes that help age wine. A wine cellar is ideal. Prolonged exposure to heat can cook wine, a process that is proactively used to make Madeira.
Refrigerate open bottles of wine
Oxidation is not your friend when it comes to storing wine. The oxygen in an open bottle of wine begins a chemical process that changes the composition over time. Initially this is a good thing, allowing the wine to open, however lengthy exposure to oxygen will start to degrade the wine and turn it into vinegar. An effective way to slow down the oxidation process is to refrigerate open bottles of wine. The lower temperature does not stop oxidation, but it does slow the process significantly.
Keep bottled wine away from direct sunlight
At the risk of stating the obvious, glass bottles are transparent, which lets UV radiation pass into the wine. The light can react with phenolic compounds in the wine, causing premature ageing and resulting in ‘light-struck’ aromas and taste notes. Whites and Rose’s are at more risk, as the higher tannin content in red offers greater protection. Darker glass bottles also minimise the effect. The impact of light on the taste of alcoholic beverages is one of the reasons that beer is often sold in dark brown bottles!
Avoid excessive vibration
A 2008 study on the effect of vibration and storage on red wine showed that vibration can cause several problems. As well as disturbing sediment, vibration can cause a chemical reaction that dulls the flavour of red wine, whilst making it taste sweeter. Don’t worry too much about occasional, low-level vibration, but avoid any easily detectable constant movements.
Store bottles on their side
Wine racks traditionally store bottles lying down, for good reason. When cork was used as the method of sealing, lying the bottle down ensured the cork was always submerged in the wine. This prevented the cork drying out and spoiling aroma and taste. “Corking” is still a common enemy of wine, especially reds. Lying bottles down, not only minimises this risk, it shows the customer that you take care of your wines.
Monitor humidity levels
Humidity is an important factor in the storage of wine. Too high (more than 70%) and mould can attack the labels and glue, reducing customer appeal. Too low (less than 50%) and corks can dry out, resulting in possible degradation of the wine. For this reason, a relative humidity (RH) of 60% is the gold standard for storing wine.
Make sure your wine offering is easily available and on show!
You may think by now that the best way to store wine is to lock it away in a temperature, light, vibration, and humidity-controlled bunker, and throw away the key! Whilst that might be true for collectors, restaurateurs and bar keepers need to be able to serve customers quickly and efficiently and those customers want to be excited about the wines available. It’s a balance! Display bottles can be used for customers, together with glass fronted wine refrigerators, for storage of the wine itself.
Modern wine storage options – Kegs
A modern alternative, designed to store wine in a near-ideal environment, whilst allowing easy access for staff and clear signage for customers, is to use specially designed storage kegs and serve wine on-tap. With a font on the bar or craft tap on the wall, the system dispenses wine efficiently, reducing waste and ensuring a constant offering glass after glass. Or carafe after carafe! Suitable for all wine types, including sparkling, wines on tap are an increasingly popular option.
We hope this short guide has been useful. Here at Sparkling Wine, we specialise in helping restaurants and bars serve delicious wine to their clients, alongside a range of on-tap cocktails, single-serve cocktails and dispensing equipment. If we can help you reduce waste, increase sales and raise customer satisfaction, we would love to hear from you.