Whether you're a full-blown wine connoisseur, or just find yourself accumulating bottles as gifts (housewarming, perhaps), it's important to implement proper storage techniques in order to keep your wine fresh. You might not have enough bottles to justify installing a wine cellar in your home, but you can certainly store your bottles in an effective way so your wine will be full of flavor when it's time to pop the cork!
Temperature is everything
Although you may already serve your white wines chilled and your reds at room temperature, how warm or cold your wine is will play a major role when it comes to storage. Many times, wine collections can become damaged due to high temperatures and too much moisture (or too little). Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to storing your wine at the correct temperature:
- Temperatures higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit can cause wine to age quicker, and may also cause your wine to "cook," which will lessen the aromas and flavors. If your wine has been oxidized, it may look brown in color, and have little to no aroma. It may also have a vinegar taste to it.
- Ideally, you will want your wine to be stored between 45 and 65 degrees - some wine experts say 55 degrees is the "perfect" temperature, but will vary depending on the varietal.
- Storing wine in your refrigerator can be sufficient for a few months, but if you plan on keeping your bottles for a few years unopened, your household refrigerator will actually get too cold for the wine, and can alter the flavor substantially.
You're probably not running a store or a vineyard, but if you do have a substantial amount of wine bottles to store, you will need to find a suitable place within your household to do so:
- Kitchen refrigerator: This option is fine for a few months if you have no other choice, and the amount of bottles you store will be based on the amount of space you have in your kitchen refrigerator after all of your daily essentials have been stocked. The bottom shelf is a good spot to stash a few bottles you want to open for your house warming party. Remember:
- Standard household refrigerators can be too cold for long-term wine storage. Not to mention, their humidity is usually somewhere around 30 percent- not ideal for keeping wine for long periods of time (ideal humidity for storing wine is approximately 60 to 70 percent)
- The heavy motor that keeps your refrigerator running causes a decent amount of vibration which can affect the tannins in your wine and alter the flavor
- Your cellar/basement: Your wine should be stored in the right combination of humidity and temperature, and should not be exposed to too much light. If your cellar is too dry, the corks in your wine may dry out or crack, causing air to seep in. If your cellar is too humid, mold can accumulate on the bottles.
- Wine refrigerator: If you don't already have a small wine refrigerator and it is within your budget to purchase one, it is the best option to store your wine for a consistent temperature. These devices are made specifically for storage and come equipped with a low-vibration compressor and very little light inside. Most models have digital temperature monitors in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Other important storage tips
- If you do not have a basement or wine refrigeration system to properly store your wine, a closet or pantry may suffice if it is cool, slightly dry and dark. Avoid keeping your wine in laundry rooms or next to your kitchen refrigerator - large appliances give off damaging vibrations and heat
- Storing wine bottles on their sides and rotating them is optimal - it will ensure the liquid keeps the cork lubricated, and the rotation will not allow for any sediment build up
- Some sparkling wines can be stored vertically, since the carbon dioxide will protect the wines from oxidation