So you’re thinking about collecting wine? Maybe you’ve already started and you want to know how to store the many bottles you have gathered. Maybe you’ve found yourself in possession of really special wine and want to make sure you take good care of it until you’re ready to open it. Maybe you’ve always wanted to have a wine collection, but you’re unsure of where to start.
Wine needs to be stored in particular conditions to maintain its flavor and aroma. Improperly stored wine can spoil, cook, or age prematurely, resulting in degraded wine. It is a highly perishable liquid that needs proper care to be enjoyed in the future.
If you’ve gone on the journey of finding and purchasing the perfect bottle, you want to be able to enjoy it to the fullest whenever you choose to open it. The following six tips will help you manage your wine storage to make sure your wine keeps it’s unique scent and taste.
Store Your Wine at the Right Temperature
One of the fastest ways to ruin a wine is to store it at the wrong temperature. Refrigerators or extremely cold rooms (like an unheated garage or basement) risk your wine. Even if the wine hasn’t frozen fully, liquids expand in the cold, and this can result in the cork being pushed out of the bottle. Oxygen interacts with wine and spoils it fairly quickly. If the room is too warm, the wine’s flavor will be flattened. This is called cooked wine.
You want to store your wine somewhere between 45° F and 65°F. While wine connoisseurs debate the right temperature for specific wines, 55°F is often considered the ideal for the average wine.
Store Your Wine at the Right Humidity
If the air humidity where your wine is stored is too low, the cork can dry out. When a wine cork dries, seepage occurs. This allows air to get into the bottle and spoil the wine. If the humidity is too high, the beautiful labels on your wine can begin to peel and even get moldy. The ideal range is somewhere between 60 and 68 percent humidity.
The Angle You Keep the Bottle on Is Important
Wine bottles need to be stored horizontally, that is, lying on their sides. This keeps the liquid within the bottle in contact with the cork, keeping the cork moist enough to prevent seepage.
Bottles with screw-on lids instead of corks can be stored upright, however, horizontal storage maximizes how many bottles you can store in a given space and makes it simpler to take out a single bottle without disrupting the others. Especially if you have extra large storage needs, horizontal storage uses space the most efficiently. As a side note, it looks pretty snazzy, which is just one small bonus of having a wine collection.
Wine Needs to Be Stored Away From Light
UV rays from sunlight interact with the chemical structure of the wine, resulting in what is called light-struck wine, which is prematurely aged wine. Wine bottles are often made with darker glass to help limit the damage light can do to the liquid. Even with the thicker, darker glass, bright light will begin to age the wine.
Wine Also Needs to Be Kept Still
Things that cause vibrations such as washing machines, drying machines, exercise equipment, and stereo speakers can shake up wine. Wine naturally has some sediment within it that can be disturbed by vibrations. Not only does this mess with the natural wine-aging process, but it can also leave little gritty pieces in your wine that completely ruin the texture of the liquid and make drinking unpleasant.
An Opened Wine Needs Extra Consideration
Oxidation ruins wine, which means that one of the best things you can do to take care of opened wine is to seal it up again as soon as possible. This can be done by placing the cork back inside, or by using a wine bottle stopper. If sealed quickly after opening, a wine can retain its flavor and scent for up to five days.
Collecting wine can be a wonderful experience, and if you keep in mind the best storage conditions, drinking it can be too. Wine is a carefully crafted beverage that needs the right environment to continue to age at an ideal rate to keep its aroma, body, and taste preserved. With these six tips, you’re well on your way to maintaining the delicate balance your wine collection needs to develop at its own pace.