Whether you are a wine connoisseur or novice, learning how to store wine correctly will save you from disappointment and insure your tasting satisfaction. Wine has a very temperamental chemical make-up which can be upset by incorrect storage. The average individual will store both red and white wines on a counter or shelf until they are opened. At that point, an open red would be placed back on the counter or shelf and the white would be placed in the refrigerator. Although this system may be satisfactory for some, the flavor of the wine could be tainted by this method. A few factors should be considered when you are ready to store your wine. Climate, location, position, and length of storage are each important factors to optimal wine storage.
The Ideal Climate for Wine Storage
You should consider two different aspects of the climate when storing your wine-temperature and humidity. If you have a varied wine collection including reds and whites of different ages, the optimal temperature to store these wines is 54° F. Storing the wine below this temperature will not usually harm the wine, but it will slow down the aging process. The temperature of your wine should never exceed 75° F for extended periods of time. If the wine goes above this temperature, it can begin to oxidize leading to a loss of color, taste, and aroma in the wine. Oxidation, sometimes referred to as flattening, is one of the most common wine faults.
Humidity will also affect the taste and smell of your wine. When wine is stored in a dry place, the corks tend to dry out which leads to oxidation and evaporation. You want to keep your corks moist to reduce the risk. 70% humidity is an ideal level to maintain. You don’t, however, want to increase the humidity much higher than 70% because it can lead to mold.
Although these temperature and humidity suggestions will allow for the best wine storage, you will usually need a wine cellar or wine cooler to achieve these results. A wine cellar can accommodate many wines and keep them in the best condition before you drink them. You can build your own wine cellar in a basement as long as you have the right tools to maintain good temperature, humidity, light, and ventilation. If you do not have access to these luxuries, focus on keeping your wine away from heat sources and air vents to achieve decent temperature and humidity levels.
The Perfect Location for Wine Storage
After considering temperature and humidity, the location is also another important factor to consider with wine storage. You want to keep your wine out of direct sunlight as much as possible. The darkest possible location should be selected. UV rays can penetrate the glass bottles, especially if they are light in color, and damage the wine. A wine cellar is the best option for a storage location, but if you desire to display your wine on an ornate or tasteful wine rack in your living area, make sure it is out of direct sunlight.
Concerning the wine’s location, it should be in a well-ventilated area and should not be stored near any other food products which release strong smells. These smells can penetrate the cork and contaminate the wine. Once the wine is open, reds can be stored on the counter or in the open. They will keep their optimal taste for 3-5 days. Whites should be refrigerated directly before and after opening.
Position Matters with Wine Storage
In addition to location, the position of the bottle matters during storage. Wine bottles should be stored on their sides for long aging. This will prevent the cork from drying out and keep the wine in pristine condition before consumption. Once opened wine can be stored upright with minimal problems. If the wine bottle is not corked, it can be stored upright. Vibration has also been said to harm wine. Refrigerators or other locations near vibrating appliances such as air conditioners or fans could speed up the chemical reaction in a bottle of wine and essentially ruin it. That being said, these factors present minimal risk for short-term storage.
The Amount of Time to Store a Wine
Many inexpensive wines will not improve over time. These can be stored and consumed in a casual fashion. Red wines can be stored up to ten years, and in some cases aging is recommended. White wines cannot be aged as long, and you should drink them within three years.
As you can see, many aspects of wine storage can be considered when you are looking for a home for your wine collection. However, if you generally drink wine within a few days or weeks of purchasing, these specific instructions can be followed at your discretion. For long storage times and expensive vintages, these instructions could save your prized bottle of wine and allow for enjoyable consumption at the time of your choosing.
Below is a list of links which will provide you with further insight into wine storage and the different factors which contribute to enjoying the perfect glass of wine.
- Wine Storage Guidelines
- Red Wine – Oak Aging
- Making Wine
- Muscadine Wine Storage
- Choosing Eco-Friendly Storage Bags
- Storing, Serving, and Drinking Wine
- Ancient Wine Storage
- Legality and Wine
- Learn about Wine
- Viticulture and Enology
- Oregon Wine Research
- Boston Wine Education
- Wine Pros Information
- Technical Wine Terms
- Wine Storage Safety
- Winery Cleaning and Sanitation
- Five Factors in Wine Storage
- Wine Mouthfeel and Texture
- Barrels and Aging
- Bottling and Aging
- Dictionary of Basic Wine Terms
- Bags to Keep Your Wine Cool