If you enjoy splashing a little cash on the finer things in life — one of them being wine, you need to know how to store your precious, curated collection correctly. Not only is it a sacrilege to let fine wine age in all the wrong ways with improper storage, but it’s also a simple waste of your hard-earned money.
When it comes to wine storage, there are a few fundamentals you want to get familiar with in order to keep your tipples in the best possible condition until you pop the proverbial cork. And yes, even the greatest wines in the world are susceptible to a poor storage environment.
Check out the rest of this blog for top tips on how to store your wine collection.
1. Wine Storage Hinges on the Perfect Temperature
If there is one influencing factor that can have a significant impact on the quality of your wine, it’s temperature. So if you prioritize anything, it should be how cool you keep your wines.
A very warm and humid environment can completely spoil even the best quality wines. You want to keep all of your wines at a temperate degree of 55ºF (13ºC) — and this applies to both short-term and long-term storage. However, this temperature can vary depending on the wine, so consult the manufacturer if you’re in doubt about the right temperature.
It doesn’t matter what type of wine or brand it is, it should never be stored below a temperature of 25 °F (-4ºC). Naturally, this will cause your wine to freeze. You shouldn’t store wine in temperatures above 68°F (20°C), either. Heat can speed up the wine aging process and break down important compounds that preserve the wine’s quality.
Finally, you want to concentrate on a stable, consistent environment for wine storage. Temperature fluctuations are just as harmful as this can cause expansion of the cork, affecting the quality of the wine.
2. Keep Your Wine Stash Horizontal
This is particularly important for wines with a cork. You want to keep your bottles in a horizontal position so that the wine cork remains moist throughout the duration of storage. Why? Because a dry cork can lead to wine seepage, and can also speed up wine aging.
It’s not a necessity to keep screw-top bottles at a horizontal angle, but if smart wine storage that uses up minimal space is your goal, this is the best solution!
3. Limit Exposure To Light and Vibration
This is probably second in importance to the temperature of your wine storage area. In order to protect your wine, even if it lives in a dark bottle, you want to minimize its exposure to light. It’s no secret that UV rays have a damaging effect on most things they come into contact with — and wine is no exception. Exposure to sunlight can damage the wine’s aroma, flavor, and speed up the aging process, too.
Vibration is also a no-no for wine storage. This is because vibration disturbs the sediments found at the bottom of the bottle, which are important in the wine aging process. The last thing you want is to disrupt this natural process.
4. Keep an Eye on Humidity Levels
While a measure of humidity is actually good for some wines, you want to keep humidity extremes at bay. Some humidity is important as it helps wine corks to stay moist, and also keeps wine labels in place.
Excess humidity has the opposite effect and can cause your wine corks to expand, affecting the delicate oxygen balance inside the bottle, which impacts wine aging and quality. If you’re lucky enough to have a wine cellar in your home or thinking of building one, you want to keep humidity levels between 60-68 percent.
5. Invest in a Good Quality Wine Fridge
So, perhaps you’ve been storing your wine on a rack in the corner of your kitchen, on the countertop, or in your pantry. Unfortunately, this is not always the best option if you’re serious about keeping your wines in top condition for long-term storage.
If you’re serious about your wine collection, you want to invest in a good-quality wine fridge that does all the hard work for you. Wine fridges are specifically designed to meet the needs of most wines. They are dark, cool, and have the perfect humidity levels.
Most wine fridges keep your wines at a constant temperature between 50-60˚F (10-15˚C). They also have a built-in mechanism that perfectly controls humidity levels. What more could you ask for?
6. Be Wary of How You Store Open Bottles of Wine
Most people have a half-finished bottle of wine in their pantry or refrigerator — if not two. But the way in which you store open bottles of wine can have a massive impact on its quality. Generally, an open bottle of wine will last 3-5 days (if you don’t drink it before then!). But if you want to save that half bottle until the weekend or for a special occasion, you want to re-seal it properly.
If it’s a corked bottle, wrap some wax paper around the cork and slide it back into the opening, making sure it fits snugly. The wax paper is important as it helps the cork slide in easier and ensures you don’t end up with bits of cork in your wine, too.
Otherwise, you could invest in a vacuum pump or a self-seal lid for an airtight seal to preserve the remainder of the wine.
7. Always Serve Wine at the Right Temperature
Okay, so this doesn’t have to do with storage, but we couldn’t not mention serving temperature. If you’re a real wine connoisseur or have friends and family that are fussy about wine temperature, here’s what you should know:
- Allow the bottle of wine to come up/down to the right temperature before serving
- Red wine should be served at room temperature which ranges between 58 and 65˚F (about 12-19˚C)
- If you’re serving an older red wine, serve it at a warmer temperature of 61-65˚F (14-19 ˚C)
- Always serve white wine or rosé slightly chilled at 45-55˚F (8-12˚C) — but never serve it ice cold as this affects the aroma and flavor
If you’re serving sparkling wine, or sweet wine, make sure to serve it at a colder temperature. You want to serve champagne at the coldest temperature of them all, somewhere between 38-45˚F (5-8˚C).
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When it comes to wine storage, remember these three fundamentals: temperature, light, and humidity. If you can get all three of these right, your wine should withstand the test of time.
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