Are you a wine enthusiast but not really sure if you’re storing wine correctly? Don’t worry; you are not alone. In fact, “How do I store wine?” is one of the most common questions that wine consumers ask. The good news is that you don’t have to be a wine expert or need to install a wine cellar in your house to store wine adequately. Even a cursory understanding of wine storage can help you keep your wine from spoiling and allow you to appreciate its unique texture and flavors.
Here are eight simple ways to keep your wine in optimal condition:
Keep it cool.
When storing wine, it’s important to avoid excessively warm temperatures, because wine quickly goes bad in these conditions. However, it’s a bad idea to store wine in the refrigerator for long periods, as the temperature is too cold for the wine to develop properly. Also, regular refrigerators—as opposed to special wine refrigerators—can dry out the cork by removing its humidity, thus ruining its intended flavors.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to store every different type of wine at a different temperature. Red, white, fortified, and sparkling wines should be stored between 53 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit. However, serving temperatures differ for each type of wine. For example, white wines should be chilled and served between 45 and 52 degrees, while red wines should be served between 58 and 65 degrees.
Keep the temperature constant.
In addition to storing wine at an appropriate temperature, it’s important to avoid major temperature fluctuations. Changes in temperature can alter the chemical processes that influence wine’s development and can therefore alter the taste intended by the vintner. One advantage of investing in a wine refrigerator is that it can maintain precise temperatures, avoid fluctuations, and preserve the quality of wine.
Don’t store wine on top of the refrigerator.
A common mistake, storing wine on top of the refrigerator can ruin its flavor. In addition to giving off heat, the appliance’s compressor produces vibrations that affect the wine’s aging process. Moreover, when you place wine on top of your refrigerator, it is closer to the light fixtures, which also give off heat.
Keep your wine on its side.
Have you ever wondered why wine coolers are designed to store wine on its side? When you store a wine bottle on its side, you keep the wine in contact with the cork, which prevents the cork from drying out. A wine bottle with a dry cork results in what is called a “corked” wine. Although you may see wine stored upright at some stores, this is due to the fact that the wine is meant for a quick sale. As soon as you take it home, you should place it on its side to avoid further damage to its flavor.
Avoid the light.
To avoid premature aging, don’t store your wine anywhere where it will be exposed to excessive light, especially direct ultraviolet (UV) rays. For this reason, it’s best not to store your wine near any windows or anywhere where the sun tends to hit during the day. If you must store it somewhere with lights, LED lights are best because they don’t give off heat.
As you take your wine home from the store, do your best to avoid excessive shaking. If you shake up a bottle of wine too frequently, you can accelerate certain chemical reactions and change the course of its intended development.
Watch the humidity level.
Aside from temperature, it’s also important to consider the humidity of the room where you store your wine. A humidity level over 70% could lead to mold growth and destroy your wine labels.
Don’t store wine near strong odors.
Although you might think your wine is safe after you reinsert the cork, intense odors near your wine can affect its flavor. Corks are porous and are meant to allow oxygen to flow into the bottle as part of the aging process. However, this also means that fumes from other substances or foods can enter the bottle. For this reason, you should avoid storing wine in the garage near paint cans or near a garbage can, and you should even avoid storing it in the refrigerator near such pungent foods as onions or garlic.
With these wine-storage tips, you can safely preserve your wine and allow it to continue the course of development the winemaker intended. If you purchase a new kind of wine for a special event and you’re not sure of the best way to store it, ask your local wine expert about the ideal conditions for both storing and serving the wine. You’ll find that proper storage can make a big difference and help you appreciate the flavors and aromas that the vintner so carefully planned.