Monday, May 20, 2013

Why Is Wine so Expensive? Reason #7 Wine Storage and Aging

Pretty frequently I am asked what makes wine so expensive. I will attempt to answer this question in a series of short, individual points about this. Your time is valuable. So here we go:

Reason #7:  Storage and Aging

What happens to the wine once the fermentation process is complete and the wine has been filtered? Some wines are meant to be drunk almost immediately, and some are fine with just the time spent in the bottles during transport. Many wines however benefit a lot from spending time in oak barrels of various sizes, and once bottled, they may spend more time aging before being shipped out. In some of the more regulated traditional wine regions (particularly in Europe) wines with certain designations are required to spend time in barrels and time in bottles--often for years--before they can be shipped to exporters, distributors, etc...

Bottle Aging in the Cellar
Whatever the aging regimen, this requires substantial space in a proper environment for aging wine. Temperature stability, absence of vibrations, proper humidity level, and manageable amounts of yeasts and bacteria, are all important factors in protecting the wine and enabling it to improve with time. This may mean installing technological solutions, or it could just mean using the existing facilities that have been in use for a long time. Either way, there is the value of the real estate, its maintenance and upgrade, and all the equipment and labor involved. Add to that the actual cost of the oak, steel tanks, and bottle racks that are used, and you get a good idea of what's involved. A substantial portion of a winery's resources can be devoted to this aging process. It generally improves the wine, making it last longer once shipped, giving some wines the ability to continue aging for years.

Oak Aging in Old Large Format Oak Barrels

The price of your bottle of wine is affected by many factors. The less-than-obvious costs of storage and aging can not be overlooked. Be sure to review all the reasons I've discussed by clicking the links below. Thanks for reading!

Read the previous reasons by clicking:

Reason #1 

Reason #2 

Reason #3

Reason #4 

Reason #5

Reason #6

--  Marc Soucy,  FWS


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