edible Magazine: Tips for Wine TLC
Article by: Jamie Relth
Brute strength is an attractive quality in the field of professional movers and, as it turns out, it has paid off for the locally based company Meathead Movers. But there is clearly more than brute strength hoisting this company to the top.
Founded by brothers Aaron and Evan Steed in 1997, the company has transformed from a two-high-schooler after-class job to a veritable moving enterprise, with seven service regions in California handling more than 5,000 moves per year, making it the largest independent moving company in the state.
Meathead’s brains-over-brawn dimension became all the more clear with their most recent development: the opening of a state-of-the-art wine storage facility in San Luis Obispo, called Meathead Wine Storage. Spearheaded by younger brother and co-founder Evan Steed, the pristine temperature and humidity-controlled vaults are nothing short of shrines to the highbrow science and precision of aging and storing wine.
A visit to the facility briefly reminded me of the goblin-operated vaults of Gringotts bank in the Harry Potter books–famed as being the safest place in the wizarding world, yet devised by the brutish creatures that goblins are known to be. Though the Meathead vaults were, by contrast, sparkling white and completely devoid of dragons, the security system involved a similarly impressive defensive line that included a personal entry code, time stamps, security cameras and circular keys.
These barricades are justified. The vaults protect something that, to some, is more precious then mere goblin’s gold. And the meticulously controlled environment within the vaults is a testament to wine’s literal and figurative preciousness.
If you thought yourself clever to keep your prized wine collection in a horizontal rack above your refrigerator, for instance, than the Meatheads have a thing or two to teach you about proper wine storage. Evan Steed will explain how even momentary events, like leaving your bottle of wine in the car on a hot summer day for an hour, exposes wine to conditions that will forever alter its quality and dramatically speed the process of aging.
And–much like how a few minutes in the face cream aisle at the drug store can spark a desperate, paranoid shopping spree for anti-aging creams and serums–if a tour of the Meathead facility does not compel you to rent your own vault outright, it will at least give you a stiff reality check about home wine storage.
Whether you ante up and get your own mini-cellar or not, anyone who has any respect for wine will benefit from these five wine storage tips:
5º to Wasted Wine
Storing your wine within the industry-accepted temperature range (anywhere from 40º to 65ºF.) is just part of the wine-aging equation. According to Evan Steed, it’s equally important to limit temperature fluctuation to no more than a 5º swing within a 24 hour period.
Shrink From Shrinkage
Most of the humidity-control talk in wine storage relates to cork moisture. Dry air environments or upright storage (where the cork is not in contact with the liquid in the bottle) can lead to the cork shriveling, diminishing its ability to keep out oxygen. On the other hand, too much humidity can lead to mold formation.
Upgrade Your Shade
Sunburned wine? It seems crazy, but wine needs UV protection to age well, just like us. Steed says that darker glass (dark green and brown or amber in color) and thicker bottles offer substantially greater UV protection than clear, lighter colored and thinner bottles. Ideal sunblock on the cheap can be found in the same wooden boxes that bottles are often sold in.
You may not feel the vibrations, but your wine does. The subtle rattling of the wine rack that may occur from nearby movement or bumping creates agitation that affects wine aging. For home collectors, Steed recommends wood racks, which absorb vibrations better.
I once tasted a fine Cabernet with a hint of mint, which the winemaker said was caused by the proximity of eucalyptus trees to the grapevines. Interestingly, wine retains that environment-absorbing quality even after it is bottled, so you should store it far from high-odor items like chemical cleaners that share your garage floor storage space.
SOURCE: ebible San Luis Obispo, Summer/Early Fall 2013 – issue 3