If You’re a Wine Lover, You Need To Know These Basics About How To Store Wine
So you and your friends didn’t get to that last bottle of wine last night, and now you’re wondering how to store wine properly, right? If you want your wine to stay in prime condition, there are a few simple factors to keep in mind for wine storage.
Before we get into how to store wine, we should let you know a thing or two about wine aging. Most wine doesn’t need to be aged. Most wine tastes best within the first five years of bottling. If you have wine that requires aging, these steps aren’t for you! You should be on the lookout for a wine fridge designed explicitly for aged wine connoisseurs.
If your wine doesn’t require an intense aging regimen, here are some basic factors you should know for wine storage. Let’s take a look at how to store wine so you can ensure your wine stays flavorful and enjoyable—even after storage!
Whether you store your bottle upright or on its side has a significant impact on how your wine tastes after storage. If your bottle of wine has a cork, you must store it on its side. By keeping the wine on its side, you’re allowing the wine to come into contact with the cork. In doing so, you make sure the inside of the cork stays moist and airtight.
If you don’t store a corked bottle on its side, you risk letting the cork dry up. A dry cork can allow oxygen into the bottle. Oxidation is harmful to wine because it changes the flavors of the wine. Sharp notes will become less pronounced, and a nutty flavor will overtake all others.
If your bottle has a screw-off metal top or plastic cork, you don’t need to worry as much about keeping the wine on its side. With either metal or plastic caps, there’s no chance of a dry cork!
Temperature is the bane of all acceptable wine storage methods. For wine storage beginners, the temperature is the most likely culprit of any wine spoilage. You should store wine, both red and white, at temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but no lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. White wine stores best in slightly lower temperatures than red.
Temperature affects wine in a few ways, but two are essential for beginners to know. First, temperature fluctuations cause the wine to expand when it’s warmer and contract when it’s cooler. The fluctuations cause the wine bottle to increase and then decrease in pressure, which could move the cork, allowing oxygen to enter the bottle and ruining the wine.
The other way temperature affects wine is due to the heat or cold itself. The heat practically cooks the wine, distorting the taste. If your wine storage is too cold, it could damage the bottle or freeze under extreme conditions.
Humidity in your wine storage room has an impact on your wine, but not as significant an effect as you may expect. There’s a wide range of acceptable humidity levels for your wine, anywhere from 50-80 percent.
The reason you want a higher humidity level is because of the cork. Conventional wisdom dictates that if you store your wine at low humidity, the cork will dry out. If you store wine on its side to protect the inside of the cork, it can still dry on the outside.
If the humidity is too high, water can build-up in your storage room or cause the wine labels to degrade. If the labels degrade too much, it can become hard to know what sort of wine you have!
When it comes to wine storage for beginners, darkness is your friend! You want to store your wine in a room that has no direct sunlight or incandescent light bulbs. It’s acceptable to have a small light turned on for a few minutes when you’re looking for the right bottle, but you should turn it off once you leave your storage room.
Light affects wine by rearranging the chemical compounds in the wine. A bottle of wine that gets exposed to light is known as ”light-struck” wine. Light-struck wine has aged much faster than it would have if kept in the dark.
Light-struck wine can have unappetizing smells or tastes, ranging from cabbage to rotten eggs. Keep your wine safe and tasty by storing it in the dark!
Do Not Disturb
When you’ve found a home for your wine, you want to leave it alone. As wine ages, sediment (made up of the leftover pieces of grape or seeds) settles at the bottom of the bottle. Movement causes that sediment to spread throughout the bottle, giving it an unpleasant texture.
Anytime you move a wine bottle, you should give it one or two days of standing upright for the sediment to settle again. Ideally, you wouldn’t have moved a bottle for a week before uncorking. You can guarantee the majority of the sediment in your wine remains on the bottom of the bottle and not in your glass if you leave the bottle upright for a week before uncorking.
So, Where Should a Beginner Store Their Bottles?
Most beginners don’t have a dark, climate-controlled room dedicated to wine storage in their home. That’s OK! Most people have some sort of space that, with a few additions, can double as a make-shift wine room.
First, we should rule out some places you don’t want to store your wine. Remember, too much heat or light exposure can ruin your wine, so you should rule out your kitchen, pantry and laundry room right away. You should rule out any small rooms with a heater too.
The best wine storage room for beginners is either a dark, rarely used closet or a basement/crawlspace. If you have a closet in your home that’s away from windows and heaters, it’s a perfect place to set up a wine rack because you should be able to control the climate relatively easily. A basement or crawlspace is even better since temperatures are usually cooler and more consistent.
So, now you know how to store wine! Wine storage beginners can ensure its taste remains in the bottle, even if you need to store the wine for quite a while.