Library Wines 101 Storing & Pouring

Library Wines 101

Wine. Juice with more life experience.

At Evoke, our winemakers believe in instant gratification and craft our wines to be enjoyed by the time it arrives in your glass. We make wine for drinking, but lucky for you a lot of those wines also get more interesting and delicious over time. So, we make it a point to hold back a certain amount of wines to be cellared in our library and released at a later date. 


We’ve accrued a pretty impressive amount of older vintages over the last decade or so, which is not a terrible problem to have. However, when the time does come to finally uncork a sleeping beauty you’ve been saving, those older wines need a careful hand. So, we created this crash course for successfully storing and pouring your library wines at home. 

What to keep and what to drink: 4 traits of wines that age well.

One thing that's important to understand is that wine, not unlike handsome movie stars, is not a fixed or constant thing. Like the difference between George Clooney and Marlon Brando, not all wines benefit from aging. It’s a hard truth, but someone had to say it. From the time it’s put into a bottle, every wine begins an ever changing journey towards its peak and inevitable demise. However, the wines that are able to stand the test of time do have a few things in common.

Acidity

Fact: All wines lose acidity as they age.

So, wines that begin their journey with an electric zing of acidity are usually a good candidate for aging. They’ve got more to lose, so they tend to outlive softer, rounder vintages that quickly fizzle and flatten out. Basically, a wine with higher acid has a longer runway as it ages.  

Tannin

Tannins act as a structural component. Like Spanx, they hold it all together during the aging process. So, red wines with higher tannin (Cab, Merlot, Nebbiolo) tend to go a bit farther than lower tannin red wines (Pinot, Zin, Grenache). A wine with well balanced tannins will break down and mellow out with the passing years. However, if the wine is not well balanced to begin with, age is not going to change that. Bad wine doesn’t get better with time, it usually gets worse.

Alcohol Level

Sometimes less really is more, especially when it comes to alcohol levels in older wines. This is because, the more alcohol that’s present, the more quickly a wine is moved towards its downfall. So, a lower ABV (look for around 13.5%) means a longer lifeline for most red and white wines. 

Residual Sugar

However, for every rule there is an exception. Fortified wines, like Sherry and Port, are perhaps the longest lived of all wines and clock in at around 17-20% ABV. This is because of their residual sugar, an attribute that is often overlooked when aging $300 bottles of Napa Cab. Turns out, the last wines standing are usually sweet. 

Storing: Keep it cool.

Where do you keep your wine? In general, the ideal temperature for long-term or short-term wine storage is around 55ºF (13ºC). Turns out, wine ages 4 times faster at room temperature, so your bedroom closet (or worse - the top of the fridge 😱) is no place to keep wine you want to hold onto for any amount of time. 


Horizontal Mambo. 

For bottles with corks, be sure to store those babies on their sides and not upright. This will help to keep the cork happy and hydrated, which is key for long-term storage. A dried out cork is more prone to seepage and can cause premature aging.


The Dark Side.

UV rays from direct sunlight can damage your wine, so it’s important to keep your it in the dark as much as possible. You’re also going to want to avoid any bad vibes. Vibrations from your washer and dryer, exercise area, or stereo system can disturb sediments in the bottle and disrupt the delicate aging process.


Get Moist.

Not unlike your curly hair at the beach or that bag of chips you opened last week, humidity extremes in your storage area can impact your wine’s longevity. Too much or not enough humidity can wreak havoc on your wine collection. In general, your humidity should be between 60 and 68 percent.


Chill Zone.

If you don’t have a wine storage space that’s cool, dark, and moist, and you are serious about storing a few vintages for 2+ years, investing in a wine cooler to keep your stash at the optimum temperature is going to be a worthwhile investment. After all, those bottles weren’t free and the last thing you want to do is wait all that time for nothing. 

 

Pouring: decant live without it.

Very few things in this world are both lovely and useful. Decanting your wine is one of those things. It helps wines become better versions of themselves by exposing it to oxygen and unlocking flavors and aromas that would have been otherwise ignored.


Step 1: Taste test

Taste the wine before you start decanting. If it's tasting great early on, drink it! If there is very little fruit, it’s overly tannic or you’re not quite sure what you’re tasting - decant it!  

Step 2: Grab a decanter

You’ve probably seen the bulbous vase-like vessels at a garage sale or thrift store and wondered "WTF it was for.?" Well, this is what it’s for.

*You can also use a quart sized mason jar in a pinch.

Step 3: Pour one out

You’re going to want to tip the decanter towards your horizontal bottle as you slowly pour wine down the side of the glass. Be careful to keep the bottle level so that you don’t pour sediment into the vessel.

Step 4: Swirlies

Give your decanter an assertive swirl in one direct before switching it up and sloshing it in the other direction. Do this for a minute or so and then put it down and wait.  

Step 5: Delayed gratification

Let your wine rest and “breath” for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Taste it again and if the wine hasn’t changed much, keep waiting another 30 minutes or so. If the wine is ready it will be noticeably more pleasant and aromatic.

Step 6: Enjoy

Great wine never goes out of style - in fact, it just gets better with time. So, let’s open the good stuff. The old stuff. The “waiting for a special occasion” stuff. Let’s open that bottle of wine tonight. Afterall, everyday has something to celebrate.