The perfect environment is dark, with a constant temperature of between 10-15°C. There are four factors to consider when storing wine properly:
HumidityStoring wine on its side helps ensure the cork doesn’t dry out which is why keeping an eye on humidity is important. You want to ensure the cork remains moist but remember that high humidity can damage labels.
MovementWhen storing wines long term, they should be kept completely still. This ensures the sediment, often found in mature wines, remains at the bottom. Movement, especially vibrations on yachts, causes the sediment to rise into the whole wine, making them more difficult to decant. Minimise this by keeping away from the engine room.
TemperatureShort-term rises in temperature are the real enemy here, as this causes the wine to mature more quickly and affects the flavour and complexity. Storing at room temperature can be damaging long term and always aim for under 13°C as opposed to higher if possible.
LightWhen exposed to light, chemical reactions in the wine speed up which can result in a loss of freshness. Try and store in a dark room.
Temperature can really influence the personality of a wine so consideration and planning is needed to ensure it is served correctly.
White & RoséBest served cool to maximise flavour and crispness.
A crisp, light-medium bodied wine should be served between 8-10°C. The likes of Sancerre and Rosé fit into this category. A fuller bodied white wine should be lightly chilled to 12°C.
RedJust below room temperature (under 20°C)
Like white wine, reds also benefit from a slightly cooler temperature. A light bodied wine should ideally be served between 13-14°C compared to a medium-full bodied wine at 17-18°C.
Sweet & SparkingStraight out the fridge
When serving these, aim for a temperature around 6-8°C. This maximises crispness and freshness especially for sweet wine. However, if it’s fine champagne, allow this to warm slightly to bring out additional aromas and complexity in taste.
Our four keys to success:
BalanceFood and wine should always compliment each other so a light-bodied wine should accompany lightweight food and vice versa.
FlavourAs with balance, flavour should not overpower the dish. If a wine is full in body and flavour, pair with food that commands the palate, such as meat.
AcidityA wine must be equal or higher to the acidic nature of the food you are eating. Low acid wines will taste like water when paired with a salad dressing or red meat.
SweetnessLike acidity, a wine should be as sweet, if not sweeter than the dessert you are eating.
Q & A
Common questions we are asked:
How do most yachts store wine on board?
It really depends on the size of the Yacht. We tend to work with only the larger ones (30m+) as they have the storage capacity for the wine. They tend to keep the wine in a cool and dry area within the yacht or in wine fridges that are designed to hold fine wine at the ideal storage temperature.
What are the challenges of storing wine on board a super yacht?
The main challenges are 1) Keeping the wine at a constant temperature 2) Space 3) Movement of the yacht.
Let’s make this very clear from the beginning, obviously yachts are not the perfect place to keep wine but clients want wine on their charters and yachts to enjoy whilst on board, so you have to cope the best you can. The bigger the boat the easier the challenges are to solve, of course.
What are the best kinds of wines to keep on a superyacht and why? What makes them more suited?
Probably White, Rosé and Champagne as they tend not to have sediment and are consumed at a young age. The reason they are more suited is they are more durable than the top end red wine that will be affected more by the conditions like temperature and movement.
Do you have any particular wines that are especially popular for superyacht clients?
Obviously Rosé and Champagne are very popular as the vast majority of time spent on a yacht is somewhere hot!
Which wines are less-suited to being kept on yachts?
Older wines, in short. If one takes as an example a claret that is over 20 years old, this will by nature be more fragile than the younger wines. The sediment will have been thrown so to speak so more susceptible to temperature fluctuations and movements within the yacht. Of course, this is over the longer term. Older wines that are kept in good storage conditions for up to 18 months, there should be no problem.
What considerations need to be taken before deciding which wines to store on board?
If you are drinking expensive wines it is important you try to store them at a temperature that will stop the wine from ageing too quickly or even worse spoiling them. The ideal storage temperature should be around 10 to 15°C , so not where I found one large sailing yacht keeping it ……… in the engine room!!
Is there a way that yachts can install a wine “cellar” on board to enable them to carry more ‘difficult’ wines on board? What technology exists for yacht wine cellars? Can they be installed retrospectively?
Yes, there are bespoke options from certain companies (e.g. Vinotemp, Sand & Birch) who custom build fridges to store wine in the optimum conditions. Types of technology include climate controlled, secure bottle racks and I have even heard of anti-roll stabilisation systems for the wine fridges.
What advice would you have for brokers who maybe received a request from a charter client for a particular wine they would like to be stocked for their charter but it falls into the ‘unsuited for yachts’ category?
I don’t think it would matter too much for a charter, as the wine would be consumed over a very short period of time (1-3 weeks). I would advise on delivering the wine at the latest possible time, so it is not hanging around too long before the charter. We own and keep all of our wine in one of the world’s best vaults for wine cellarage, where temperature and humidity are kept constant and at the optimum level. So it’s best to keep it in these conditions as long as possible. We then have a very efficient logistics team to make sure the wine is transported in the quickest time and also in the optimum conditions.