Wine making has long been a passion of many people. In fact, evidence supports the fact that wine making has been taking place for over 8,000 years. With the introduction of commercial wine-making, what was once a homemade product quickly became eclipsed by the mass production of quality wines. Despite the wide availability of wine, many people choose to make their own. Homemade wine has become a hobby for many wine enthusiasts; they make wine from kits or totally from scratch. One of the most important steps in the homemade wine making process is aging the wine. Aging wine allows the flavors to mature, rounds out the flavors so there are no sharp flavor notes, and to reduce the strength and bitterness of tannins. Homemade wines need at least 4 weeks to age after being bottled.
Use quality wine ingredients.
The first step to ensuring that the wine aging process goes well is to make the wine using quality ingredients. Using boiled water, quality grapes and other high end ingredients is essential to making a good quality homemade wine. The better the quality wine you make, the better it will age.
Use the correct bottles.
Red or rose wines need to be stored in dark colored bottles; otherwise the wine can become discolored. Homemade red wines can be stored for up to 18 months or longer, if it is a dessert wine. Properly sterilized and sealed bottles are also necessary for aging wine.
Control the temperature.
Homemade wines don’t follow the same rules as those made at wineries, where the wine is stored in casks for much longer. Once bottled, your homemade wine should be stored between 50 and 60 degrees F (10 and 15 degrees C). Keeping a consistent temperature is key; fluctuating temperatures can dull the flavor of the wine, it can lose its aroma, and any special flavor notes you were looking to give it might be lost.
Consider the position of the bottle.
Experts are not in agreement on how the bottle should be stored for aging. Some experts say that an upright bottle will allow any residual sediment to fall to the bottom, while others claim that a bottle on its side is the best, especially if the bottle is corked. Some humidity is needed to keep the cork from drying out, but even on its side, one end of the cork will be exposed to less humidity. A large number of bottles are best stored on their side as they will be more easily accessed and will take up less storage room. Sparkling wines and champagne, however, should be stored upright because the trapped carbonic gas bubble prevents the contents from spoiling due to exposure to oxygen.
Control the humidity.
Wine bottles that are sealed with corks require that they be stored in a humidity controlled environment. Humidity levels of 55 to 75 percent will prevent the cork from drying out and shrinking. If the cork shrinks the wine could leak out, and oxygen can get in and cause the wine to spoil.
Store the wine.
Most homes aren’t equipped with underground wine cellars that remain cool and humid all year long. There are, however, wine storage cabinets that you can purchase. They can be adjusted to maintain whatever humidity and temperature level you choose. Most homemade white wines can be enjoyed soon after bottling so long term storage isn’t necessary. Expensive wines, or batches you want to preserve, should be stored properly at home.