Optimal Wine Storage
A common question I'm asked by friends and clients is about wine storage and how best to protect their wine investments. Specifically, “If I don’t have a wine fridge, what is the best way to store my wine?” Rest assured, even though they don’t have a wine fridge, there are a few key steps to assure you’re protecting your wine investment.
• Heat is enemy number one for wine. Here is my three-pronged approach to temperature:
1. Ideal Temperature Range
• The ideal temperature range is between 45° F and 65° F. Most notable for “perfect” temperature is often cited at 55° F.
• Don’t worry if you can’t hit that “perfect” temperature. Just make sure you avoid rapid, extreme, or frequent temperature swings. Why? Besides cooked flavors, the expansion and contraction of the liquid inside the bottle might push the cork out or cause seepage.
3. Too Hot or Too Cold?
• Too Hot: Temperatures higher than 70° F will age a wine quicker than is usually desirable. And if it gets too much hotter, your wine may get “cooked,” resulting in flat aromas and flavors.
• Too Cold: Many people ask if they can just keep it in their fridge. While the short answer is yes, the longer answer results in a no. Why household refrigerators help safely store perishable food is because they on average fall well below 45° F. However, because of the lower temperature and the lack of moisture, this will dry out corks, which might allow air to seep into the bottles and damage the wine. Also, don’t keep your wine somewhere it could freeze (i.e. an unheated garage in winter). If the liquid starts turning to ice, it could expand enough to push the cork out.
• Light, especially sunlight, can pose a potential problem for long-term storage. The sun’s UV rays can degrade and prematurely age wine. One of the reasons why vintners use colored glass bottles? They’re like sunglasses for wine. Light from household bulbs probably won’t damage the wine itself, but can fade your labels in the long run.
Don’t Sweat It
• The ideal humidity level is 70 percent. The theory goes that dry air will dry out the corks, which would let air into the bottle and spoil the wine. Anywhere between 50 percent and 80 percent humidity is considered safe. Conversely, extremely damp conditions can promote mold. This won’t affect a properly sealed wine, but can damage the labels.
Ever seen Sideways?
• Traditionally, bottles have been stored on their sides in order to keep the liquid up against the cork, which theoretically should keep the cork from drying out. If you’re planning on drinking these bottles in the near- to mid-term, or if the bottles have alternative closures (screw caps, glass or plastic corks), this is not necessary.
Shake, Shake, Shake it Off
• There are theories that vibration could damage wine in the long term by speeding up the chemical reactions in the liquid. Some serious collectors fret about even the subtle vibrations caused by electronic appliances, though there’s little evidence documenting the impacts of this. Significant vibrations could possibly disturb the sediment in older wines and keep them from settling, potentially making them unpleasantly gritty. Unless you live above a train station or are hosting rock concerts, is this likely to be a problem for your short-term storage? Nahhhh you do you boo boo.
Article TitleHow to Store Wine 101: 7 Basics You Need to Know | How To | Learn Wine | Wine
Date PublishedAugust 23, 2011