Aging and Storage:

Q: What recommendations do you have on storing your bottled wines?
A: Bottled wines are dramatically affected by the environment they are stored in. In fact, proper storage conditions are so important in ensuring that your wine is at peak quality when opened, they should be considered the last unwritten step in the winemaking process.
Some wines are more susceptible to poor storage conditions. Generally, white wines - particularly off-dry wines and champagne - are more frail than reds. Grape variety can also make a difference; for example, Cabernet Sauvignon wines are generally more resilient than Pinot Noirs. However, no matter what the wine, it always pays to minimize the risks associated with bottle storage:
Temperature Constant temperature is the key. By causing the wine inside the bottle to expand and contract, swings in temperature rapidly ruin bottled wine. Ideal cellar temperature is 45 - 55 F (7 - 13 C). At lower temperatures, maturation is slowed, though more complexity is allowed to develop. Wine could be safely stored to within a degree or two of freezing, but it would take decades to develop. On the other hand, wines can be stored at up to 68 F, where they will mature quite rapidly. Higher temperatures than this will quickly damage the wine.
Light Sunlight and ultraviolet light (ie. fluorescent lamps) are as bad for wine as excessive heat, but are problems usually much easier to overcome. Though most wines are protected to some degree by colored glass bottles, place wines in areas away from direct light or cover them with a blanket.
Humidity Some degree of humidity is beneficial for long term storage, to ensure that the exposed end of the cork does not dry out and allow oxygen into the bottle. Beware of air conditioners, as they actually suck moisture out of the air. Ideally, relative humidity should be between 60 - 75%. Humidity higher than that encourages mould growth in your storage area (not to mention label deterioration!).
Movement Wine does not take well to constant movement or vibration (particularly if there is sediment present), thus a secure storage space is a must. Don't put your bottles next to the washing machine, or in a storage area where they will have to be moved often to reach other items. Secure storage should also mean storing bottles horizontally, allowing constant contact of the wine with the cork, preventing the cork from drying out and letting air in.
A simple check of all environmental influences in or near your storage area is advised. For example, areas such as garages or attics, which seem cool, may be subject to temperature fluctuations due to lack of insulation. A good option is to insulate a small room, large cupboard or area under the stairs, void of any heat sources like a water pipe or a boiler. Periodically checking the area with a thermometer is a good idea. A good way to do this is to put a floating thermometer in a one litre jug of water, and leave it covered in the space for 24 hours. This will let the water stabilize to the ambient temperature, and give you an accurate reading.
Allowing for the ageing of your finished wine in an environment which helps to preserve its finer qualities will pay big dividends in ensuring that you will have the best wine possible to enjoy with friends and family.

Q: How long should a newly bottled wine be aged before it’s best to consume it?
A: It's tempting to start consuming your wine right after bottling it, and in fact, there are many wines that can be consumed right after bottling and be everything you want them to be. But if you really want to maximize your wine's potential, a little time left alone in the bottle can make the difference.
With age, most red wines which begin life with obvious fruity aromas and some degree of astringency ('bite') will develop softer, gentler, more complex aromas and flavours. The wines become richer, as the fruit mellows and the astringent tannins relax and contribute to the body and character.
Many white wines also benefit with age. Whites intended for ageing may display exceedingly high acid levels which will soften over time, uncovering wonderful textures and flavours.
Components of wines differ by variety or blend, and thus react differently to ageing. Some wines require longer ageing periods than others. For example:
More Ageing
Some Ageing
Little Ageing
Cabernet Sauvignon
Barolo Style
Pinot Noir
All blush wines
Sauvignon Blanc
Liebfraumilch Style
Ruisseau Blanc™
Johannisberg Riesling
Different factors exert influence on the rate of ageing and can contribute to a better ageing potential:
Storage - A very big factor, discussed in more detail under Storage (see below)
Cork quality - The longer and less porous the cork, the better the oxygen barrier, extending ageing potential.
Ullage - The amount of headspace in the bottle. Leaving 1 - 1 ½ inches is best.
Sulphite level - Higher concentrations protect from oxidation.

So how should you treat the ageing period for our different products? The answer depends on many factors. For example, using a long, high quality cork or adding some extra sulphite at bottling will extend the maximum age period. Thus, use the following as a general guideline only:
Bolero Juice
3 - 6 months
5 years
Kendall Ridge Showcase,Bin 49, Legacy and Cru Select Reds
3 - 6 months
3 years
Kendall Ridge Showcase, Bin 49, Legacy and Cru Selec Whites
3 - 6 months
2 years
Kendall Ridge Classic, California Connoisseur, European Select and Grand Cru Reds
2 months
1 year
Kendall Ridge Classic, California Connoisseur, European Select and Grand Cru Whites
1 month
1 year
Niagara Mist, Island Mist and Cellar Master Mist
1 year

The Ten Most Common Winemaking Mistakes
(and how to avoid them)

1. Using the Wrong Equipment
When you start making your wine, don't just grab anything you see around the house—like your Grandma's pickle crock, peanut butter pails, garbage cans, or wooden spoons. These can't be sanitized easily and might taint your wine.
Proper winemaking equipment is made of food-grade plastic and is designed to give you the best results possible. Life's a lot easier when you've got the right gear. (Kind of like mountain climbing—what if you forgot the rope that holds you to the side of the mountain?) Your retailer can help you find the equipment you need.
2. Dirty Equipment
Cleaning means removing visible residue. It's really important. It's kind of like washing your dishes—you aren't likely to make dinner with dirty pots and pans. Use an unscented detergent on your equipment and rinse well. Your retailer can suggest something appropriate. Once everything is clean, you can move onto sanitation…
3. Poor Sanitation
Sanitizing means treating equipment with a substance that will reduce or remove bacteria. There are several sanitizers you can use, including metabisulphite solution and Iodophor. They all work a little differently. Ask your winemaking shop for advice when choosing a sanitizer. Or you can call us and we'll recommend something that suits your needs.
Clean and sanitize everything that touches your wine—fermenters, carboys, hoses, thermometers, spoons. You get the picture. It's easy and worth it: ninety percent of winemaking failures can be traced to poor cleaning or faulty sanitation.
4. Ignoring or Changing the Instructions
Follow each manufacturer's instructions carefully. Wine kit manufacturers usually have plenty of experience making wine, and their instructions should be clear and easy to follow. These people find the best procedures for getting the best possible results from the ingredients in the kit.
5. Using the Wrong Water
Many people think they need to be concerned about the water they use in winemaking. In reality, this is one of those 'problems' that is not a big deal.
If your tap water is drinkable, chances are you can make wine with it. That said, some water can leave your wine hazy or give it off flavours. If you know your water is very high in minerals, is metallic, or has high levels of chlorine, you should think about getting a water filter or using bottled water.
6. Not Adding the Yeast Correctly
Be sure to follow the kit instructions when adding your yeast. We recommend sprinkling the yeast over the surface of 18 to 25°C (65 to 80°F) juice and not stirring. If the temperature is wrong, the yeast won't be happy. And if you stir it in, you can suffocate it.
Observant winemakers eventually notice that our kit instructions don't match the instructions printed on our yeast packages. If you use the yeast manufacturer's rehydration instructions, you must follow them exactly—sloppy rehydration will seriously harm your yeast. Simply sprinkling dry yeast over the surface of the juice is much easier and works great.
7. Poor Temperature Control
Kit instructions tell you to ferment your wine within a specific temperature range. We recommend 20 to 23°C (70 to 75°F). Yeast likes these temperatures and it doesn't like fluctuations. In other words, yeast is going to be happy in the same kind of environment that people find comfortable.
Temperature control is important, but you don't need to get obsessive over it. Thousands of people make great wine in a closet in their apartment. Just use your common sense. If you live in Manitoba, don't make wine in your garage in the winter. If you live in Texas, don't make wine in your attic under the sweltering summer sun unless your attic is air conditioned.
8. Adding Sulphite and Sorbate at the Wrong Time
If you add these too early, your wine will stop fermenting and the yeast won't convert any more sugar into alcohol. The wine will end up extra sweet and the alcohol level will be low.
If you make this mistake, give your local winemaking shop a call, or call RJ Spagnols help line. As long as you follow the instructions, you should be fine.
9. Leaving out the Sulphite
Kits include a package of sulphite which you stir into the wine. Sulphite prevents your wine from spoiling, so please don't leave it out. Wine without added sulphite may have a shelf life as short as one month.
Some people blame sulphites for headaches, allergic reactions and hangovers. In reality, these conditions are usually caused by compounds other than sulphite. Winemakers have been using sulphite for thousands of years, and modern winemakers (like you) still can't do without it. However, if you think you are sensitive or allergic to sulphites, please consult your doctor.
10. Not Stirring Enough
Eventually you need to clear your wine. You do this by adding natural substances like gelatin and a clay called bentonite. These come with the kit and need to be dispersed thoroughly throughout the wine. This means stirring. And stirring. And stirring. Even if your arm gets sore.

Just a final note: Everyone wants to drink their wine the day it's bottled. Give it some time! Even if it tastes fine right away, it will get much better. Try to ignore it for three months. It's worth it.