The perfect way to store wine has been a topic of much disparity for hundreds of years. Wine geeks can spend hours discussing proper room temperature, humidity levels, and lighting by lambasting the effects they can have on just one bottle of wine. All of this worry over storing your wine can take away from the pleasure of drinking it.
Fortunately, for the home collector it is not necessary to spends thousands of dollars remodelling your basement to create a wine cellar. With a little understanding of the properties of wine and how they can be affected by the elements you can create a safe storage area for your vino right in your own home.
The Basics of Safe Wine Storage
When storing wine it is important to keep 5 main factors in mind. Light, heat, humidity, oxygen, and vibration can all cause wine to turn. You don’t really have to worry about it turning to vinegar as common lore tells us, but these elements will cause your wine to age quickly. Your expensive Bordeaux may peak in the year 2010 instead of 2015, with a less than pleasant taste.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when storing your wine at home.
Store wine in a dark place. UV light can cause wine to develop an unpleasant smell. Oenophiles say that wine exposed to light has been light struck. Darker bottles are better at keeping UV rays from harming the wine; the glass in some bottles has a UV coating. To keep your wine from becoming light struck wrap it in a cotton cloth or place your bottles inside a box.
Corked wine bottles should be stored lying on their side. If a bottle is stored in the upright position the cork tends to dry out and air will seep into the bottle and spoil.
Store wine at a constant temperature. Most wines must be refrigerated in order to maintain a proper temperature. Wine should be kept under 75°F, 24°C or it will begin to oxidize. The ideal temperature range for wine storage is 55°F to 68°F. Avoid temperature fluctuations when possible – wine that experiences fluctuations over-breathes and ages prematurely.
Leave it alone. Moving wine, and any other vibrations, can cause wine to go ‘off’ and have a less than perfect taste. It is an excellent idea to have a storage system in which you know where each bottle is stored and you do not have to move one bottle to reach another.
High humidly can lead to mould growth and will loosen your beautiful wine labels. 70 percent humidity is recommended. This amount of humidity will keep the cork from becoming dry and crumbly. If you are worried about humidly levels purchase a hygrometer to keep check on the levels in your storage area.
Wine breathes and can easily pick up odours from other perishables in its vicinity. Isolate your bottles so strong smells do not seep through the cork and ruin your wine.
Store no wine past its prime. Not all wines require the same amount of storage time. Classic reds should be stored for 2 to 10 years. Traditional whites need only be stored for 2 to 3 years. However, there are some burgundies and exclusive wines that can be stored for over 20 years.
Let wine breathe before storing. Wine is best served at a specific temperature. Let the wine come to its proper temperature just before drinking.
Some wine can be stored in the refrigerator after being corked. White wine will generally last for 2 to 3 in the refrigerator if the cork has been fitted tightly into the bottle.
Red wines can be kept at room temperature after opening. Keep them stored in a cool, dark place.
So Many Choices
Where to store your wine is often another area of contention among oenophiles. Some swear by wine cellars but most of us do not have the option of doing a major re-haul to our basement. For the rest of us a makeshift wine closet is the perfect answer. You can easily turn an unused basement closet into a wine storage area.
Wine coolers and fridges are also great options for storing wine at home. They can easily maintain the correct temperature and humidity levels. You will even find wine coolers that have designated areas for various wines.
No matter which storage method you choose you will never tire of the riot of colour you see each time you open the storage door. The beauty of bright, jewel tone wine bottles can be as delicious as the wine itself. Storing your wine in the proper manner will ensure the flavour of the wine remains true and is as beautiful on the tongue as it is to the eyes.