A wine cellar serves as a storage room for wine in glass bottles or barrels , more rarely in glass balloons , amphorae or plastic canisters . In a broader sense, a storage cellar for wine, sparkling wine and other valuable alcoholic beverages is meant. Whiskey, sherry or port wine can also gain characteristics through storage in wooden barrels, for example, which are valued by some consumers (see barriques , aging ).
These cellars are usually completely underground. They often have direct contact with the surrounding soil ; this should improve the storage climate for the wine.
Wine cellars thus offer the possibility of protecting alcoholic beverages from harmful external influences in the dark and in a constant room climate . Some are set up to provide a stylish setting for wine tasting .
The cellars of large wineries can also be laid out on several floors, in which case an elevator is usually available for transport. In earlier centuries, the ceilings of the wine cellars, the operation of which was subject to certain legal regulations, were mostly designed as vaults ; structures made of reinforced concrete have been in use since the early 20th century . Where wine is (or has been) stored in barrels, there are usually so-called barrel storage facilities, i.e. bases with semicircular depressions for setting up the barrels, so that the barrels cannot roll away and are protected from soil moisture. Bottles were usually stored on brick shelves, but in modern wine cellars there are mostly tanks made of plastic or stainless steel , through the use of lattice boxes , pallets and forklifts , modern technologies have also found their way into wine cellars.
Private wine cellars are usually located in the basement. You can also air-condition a room for this purpose . Wine refrigerators are an alternative, but with special shapes (Bocksbeutel, magnum bottles) they can quickly become overwhelmed.
The supposedly largest wine cellar in the world (according to other sources in Europe) is located in the tunnels of a former lime mine near Chișinău in Moldova in Mileștii Mici .
Conditions in the wine cellar
So that the wines can be stored optimally, certain basic requirements such as temperature, humidity, incidence of light and smell must be met.
The influence of the temperature in the cellar is particularly important because the biochemical process in wine takes place twice as fast if you only increase the temperature by ten degrees. If you want to store the bottles for decades, the cellar should not exceed the 15 degree limit. However, if the wine is to unfold and develop more quickly, an ambient temperature of 20 degrees Celsius should be provided. It should be noted that if the wine is exposed to such a higher temperature for a long time, it is "cooked" and consequently takes on a jam-like aroma .
The wine cellar can be not only too warm but also too cold. Despite its alcohol content, the wine can freeze at -5 degrees. The bottle is blown beforehand by the expansion of the liquid at −2 to −4 degrees. Even before the wine freezes or the bottle bursts, tartar deposits occur . These crystals do not affect the taste of the wine, they are much more an indication that the wine was not stabilized before filling.
Fluctuations in temperature
The fluctuation between warm and cold has more influence on the development of the wine than the absolute temperature. If the temperature rises or falls significantly with the seasons, the bottles begin to "breathe". This means that the volume of air and liquid will expand rapidly if suddenly heated. The resulting overpressure or underpressure is compensated by either pushing the wine out of the bottle between the cork and the bottle neck or by sucking air into the bottle. This means that oxygen reaches the wine and can lead to the development of undesirable aromas.
The humidity in a wine cellar should be between 75% and 85%. If the air in the room is too dry, the moisture evaporates from the corks. These become dry on the outside and then porous and cannot prevent harmful oxygen from entering the bottle. Wines that are stored too dry therefore usually mature faster and not always well.
Very high humidity, which helps preserve the cork, can cause mold to form on the cork surface. As long as no wine has escaped between the cap and the edge of the bottle, the fungus has no negative consequences for the wine. Damp wine cellars used to be a problem for labels, as they often peeled off the bottles, disintegrated or became illegible. Modern labels on special paper are hardly affected by moisture.
The lighting conditions in the wine cellar also influence the wine. After just a few weeks of storage in brightly lit rooms, the color, smell and taste can change negatively , especially due to UV radiation . Most wines are sold in colored bottles, which are supposed to filter some of the light, but a certain amount of oxygen-releasing residue still comes through the dark glass to the wine.
Daylight should not be able to constantly flow into the wine storage room, the artificial lighting should only be switched on when necessary. The wines are better protected if they are not stored on open shelves but in the original boxes or in their barrels .
The cork does not normally allow liquid to seep out of the bottle, but does allow a small amount of gases to diffuse. Foreign odors can also get into the wine with the room air. This applies in particular to solvents which, for example, leak sealants or perfume additives in cleaning agents. The wine is also at risk from chlorine. The chemical additives contained in many cleaning agents and disinfectants, which may cause the phenols hidden in the cork to combine with trichoranisole , trigger the cork taste in wine.
Wine bottles should always be stored horizontally so that the cork is always kept moist. Whether the bottles are stacked in wooden boxes or on shelves is not relevant for further development.
In Champagne , some parts of old forts are used as wine cellars. In areas where the subsoil is easily hollowed out (e.g. around Maastricht), wine cellars are dug into the subsoil, e.g. B. at Neerrkanne Castle .
During some wars, the entrances to some wine or champagne cellars were walled up in an attempt to protect them from being confiscated (“ requisitioned ”) by the occupiers. For example, the champagne wine cellars were the subject of German desires in the war of 1870/71 and in both world wars .
- Henryk Maria Fukier - in October 1939 the Nazis confiscated his entire wine cellar in Warsaw
- ^ Hans Schukowitz : The basement law. In: Journal of the Association for Folklore 11, 1901, pp. 452–455.
- ↑ The largest wine cellar in the world (Guinness Book of Records). on geo.de .
- ↑ a b c d André Dominé: Wine . Ed .: HF Ullmann. ISBN 978-3-8331-4611-4 , pp. 42 f .
- ↑ Petie Kladstrup: Wine and War: Bordeaux, Champagne and the Battle for France's greatest wealth. dtv, 2004, ISBN 3-423-34152-1 .
- More information about the vaulted cellar as a wine cellar
- Breton, Félicien: Conditions of wine storage (en, fr)