First and foremost we understand that working with wine on a yacht can be rather complicated. Many yachts do not have wine storage cabinets or coolers and even if there is space for wine cabinets, the humidity, hot temperatures, vibrations and rolling in big seas don't do wine much of a favour. That said, knowing how best to approach your fine wine will help you keep those expensive bottles in the best of possible conditions. Though, our experience has thought us that, even if stored in professional wine cabinets, we find that wines stored on yachts evolve at a quicker rate then wines stored on land, so we don't suggest storing those super expensive bottles for too long.
Before getting into the details of wine storage, it is very important to know how where you bought the wine from and how it has been stored along the way.
Has your supplier stored the wine in optimum conditions before selling to you? For instance, would you really want to serve a bottle of Chateau Pétrus or Romanée Conti if your supplier had stored it under a light bulb for some time? Would you purchase a non-vintage champagne that had been gathering dust in a provisioner’s shop for years? Is your supplier trustworthy enough to guarantee that the wine they are selling you has not been left out in the scorching sun for long?
These are important questions that should be answered first.
Now onto the nitty-gritty of it.
Heat is the prime enemy for wine and can really damage it. The ideal temperature for storing wine is between 13°C.-18°C. Note that, the correct serving temperature varies.A standard fridge is fine if you’re only going to be storing the bottle for a short period of time. However, it’s important to note that the low temperature and lack of moisture will dry out the cork, thus allowing air into the bottle that could damage it. A specialized wine fridge is the ideal, longer-term solution.
When storing wine on a yacht, avoid extreme and frequent temperature swings and instead aim for consistency. Don’t panic if heat has caused the wine to seep up the cork a little, as this doesn’t always mean that the wine is ruined.
Lots of light can pose problems for long-term storage and age your wine prematurely. That’s why we recommend the use of colored glass, which acts as ‘sunglasses for your wine. A dimly-lit cabin is best for wine storage.
If your wine is stored in a cabin where the air is dry, this will dry out your corks, thus letting the air into the bottle to spoil your wine. To combat this, avoid placing your wine near the engine room, near the AV or close to any electrical boxes.
At the other end of the scale, a damp environment can be just as damaging, so avoid placing wine in bilges or exterior lockers. The ideal humidity level for wine storage is 70%.
We recommend keeping the liquid up against the cork to stop it from drying out. Standing the bottle up is OK for short periods, or if the wine has alternative closure – such as a screw-top
Significant vibrations could disturb the sediment in older wines. Obviously there will be movement on any yacht, but it is best to store your bottles mid-ship where there will be the least movement possible.
Invest in custom storage for your wine. At Vintage82 we have worked with many of our clients to create a storage area that ticks all of the above boxes, and this has helped to ensure the longevity of their wine collections.
Finally, we recommend keeping wines on board for the shortest time possible – for maximum one season. It is best to constantly rotate your wine stock, as this will guarantee that the wine you serve is always at its best