Greetings, wine lovers!
In the spirit of keeping our fellow oenophiles informed and knowledgeable about wine, we’re doing yet another educational blog post. Today, we’ll be discussing the do’s and don’ts of storing wine. If you’ve picked up a few bottles of nice wine recently and were wondering how to store them properly long term, keep reading. If you’ve just grabbed a bottle from the store that you’re not going to drink right away, read on. If you’ve kept a bottle in your house or apartment for ages and ages and aren’t sure if you stored it correctly (or if it’s still good to drink)…read on, you naughty person.
Tip #1 – Coolness is next to godliness
There’s a funny scene in the popular television sitcom Frasier where the title character (Frasier Crane), his brother Niles, and their father Martin open a rare bottle of old French wine given to them by a friend. They take a sip and make sour faces. Frasier and Niles ask Martin where Martin’s friend kept the bottle: in his boiler room.
Heat is the enemy of wine. There’s a reason vintners age wine in caves whenever and wherever possible, and why the best location for a wine cellar is below ground. It’s nice and cool down there. If you’re going to age wines for years, the optimal temperature is right around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re only storing your wines short-term, you don’t have to keep them that cool, but it’s still a good idea to keep them lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent premature aging. It’s also important to keep the temperature constant. Fluctuations in temperature are as bad (or worse) for wine as extreme heat or cold.
Tip #2 – Darkness is good, too
You know the other convenient thing about caves? They’re dark as well as cool. Sunlight—and even artificial light, especially halogen lights—emits heat and UV waves that can cause your wine to undergo undesirable chemical changes that will ruin its aroma and flavor. The best solution for storing wine short-term is to keep it in a box or a bag or a closet or some other dark space. If you’re storing wine long-term, in a cellar, then you should make sure that you use low-heat, zero-UV lights such as LEDs. And keep them on a timer or connect them to a motion sensor, too, so the lights aren’t on all the time even when you’re not in the cellar.
Tip #3 – Tilt those bottles!
Proper humidity levels are important for long-term wine storage. (A range of 50-60% relative humidity is what we recommend.) But it’s also important to keep the wine bottle angled so the wine touches the cork. This will moisten the cork and prevent it from drying out and cracking. If a wine cork cracks, air can leak into the bottle and oxidize the wine, which will also ruin its aroma and flavor. If you’re storing wines short-term, and you’re putting them in a box or in a cupboard to keep them dark and cool, make sure they’re not standing upright. Lay the bottles on their sides. Your tastebuds will thank you later.
Tip #4 – Don’t keep bottles in (or on) the fridge
Refrigerators are not your wine’s best friend. There are special wine refrigerators in which wine can be stored for long periods, but your average garden-variety kitchen fridge is a bad idea. Why? First of all, fridges vibrate. Refrigerators are designed to keep the contents cold, not motionless. Refrigerator motors cause the entire refrigerator to vibrate whenever the motor cycles on, and this repetitive vibration can cause your wine to undergo yet another series of chemical reactions which ruin its flavor.
Second, the fridge is just too cold. Most refrigerators are designed to cool the products inside to almost freezing (35 degrees Fahrenheit or so). That’s not the ideal temperature for storing wine.
Of course, a refrigerator will do in the short term if the only alternative is a sunlit kitchen counter or a hot room. But it’s not ideal, not by any means.
Tip #5 – Don’t store wine for too long!
Most people don’t realize that only a tiny fraction of wines are intended to be aged for long periods. Most wines sold in stores contain sulfites, which artificially age the wine and eliminate the need for cellaring. That’s right, folks—almost all of the wines you buy can be drunk immediately. They won’t taste any better if you age them for long periods…in fact, they might even taste worse. Keeping wines past their peak will only result in a steady degradation of flavor. So don’t keep ’em around too long, drink ’em!
And there you have it, folks. Five easy wine storage tips to help you keep your wines fresher and tastier for longer. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out some of our other educational posts. And don’t forget to stop by our website for the latest and greatest modern wine racking solutions. Happy sipping!