Consumers, connoisseurs and collectors of fine wine, together known as the secondary market, will traditionally look to acquire wines as they reach maturity. Their selection of is often influenced by the world’s leading critics, whilst some buy based on brand, with history, ownership, wine maker and exclusivity also influencing buying patterns.

“As this secondary fine wine market continues to grow and there’s greater interest in fine wines from South African collectors and consumers alike, the subject of wine storage and provenance is of greater importance than ever before,” says James Pietersen, CEO of Wine Cellar fine wine merchants. “Although a home cellar may be more convenient than storing wines off-site with a professional wine storage service, there are key factors that need to be considered before commissioning one for your home.”

We asked James to share his 5 basic tips for any fine wine cellar:

1.   Wine must be stored at a constant 13-16ºC

Wine is temperature sensitive so you will need to maintain the ideal temperature band of 13-16ºC. To do so, you’ll require a cooling unit. If you intend to store wines privately with the purpose of reselling or realising value from your collection, then recording temperatures with a simple temperature data recorder is essential for provenance. 

2.   Optimal humidity falls between 65 – 75% 

For perfect cellaring conditions, it’s important that the air is not too dry as it may result in dried-out corks that become less elastic over time. Dry corks allow more oxygen into the bottle than a healthy, elastic cork would, causing premature oxidation. However, a damp and wet environment would lead to mould and moisture-ridden bottles and capsules. The ideal humidity level for wine storage falls between 65 – 75%.

3.   Light must be kept to a minimum

Ideally, your cellar should have only essential lighting. Excess light will deteriorate the wine quality over time. The wines should also be kept in their cases to ensure a dark environment for each bottle.

4.   Store wines on their side

Although there has been some recent debate about the positioning of wine bottles, we work with many old bottles under cork closure which have been lying on their sides for many years. From our experience, this traditional way of storing wines lying down, results in healthy, elastic corks.

5.   Keep the original packaging where possible 

Although the South African fine wine market is not yet as attuned to original or generic wine cases as the international markets, it is preferrable when a wine has been kept in its original case.

If building a home cellar is not an option for you, offers professional, specialised wine storage. Based in Cape Town, Wine Cellar fine wine merchants store wine on behalf of hundreds of South Africa’s most avid fine wine collectors. 

Under current level 4 regulations, lovers of fine wine can continue to buy fine wines both via Wine Cellar fine wine merchants and via upcoming July Strauss & Co auctions. Purchased wines can be cellared at Wine Cellar fine wine merchants for delivery post Lockdown. 

11 July at 10am – Virtual Live Auction | Sweets, Fortifieds & Whisky

Pre-sale bids are now open, please visit Strauss & Co auction website page

25 July at 11am – Virtual Live Auction | Burgundy & Champagne

To find out more, visit the Wine Cellar fine wine merchants websit

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