Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or someone who simply enjoys the occasional glass, you’re probably wondering — is there a correct way to store wine? The answer is yes. Wine is a delicate alcoholic drink that needs special attention to ensure its quality is preserved until you can enjoy it. For fine wine as well as regular wine that doesn’t need long-term storage, you should know some basics about storing it.
Here are some tips to help you store wine:
1. Evaluate what kind of wine you want to put in storage
To determine what conditions are best for storing your wine, first consider a few things about it. Is it fine wine? How much of it do you have? How much storage space do you plan on dedicating to it? Additionally, take into account whether you plan on drinking the wine at a later time or if it is for immediate consumption. These aspects will inform what conditions you need to best store your wine and preserve its properties.
2. Wine needs a temperature-controlled environment
Temperature is the most crucial environmental factor when it comes to storing wine. Extreme temperatures can make wine spoil. The ideal temperature for wine storage is 55 degrees Fahrenheit (F) on average, but different types of wine and their ages can require different temperatures.
A wine’s age can determine the precise temperature, with older wines being kept at 61 – 65 F and younger wines kept at colder temperatures. Red wine, with stronger tannins than white, can be kept at 55 F. However, to prevent it from freezing, no wine should be kept below 25 F. Temperatures above 68 F can also damage the properties of wine by accelerating the aging process.
The important thing is to make sure the storage temperature stays the same. Temperature variations can make the cork contract and expand, allowing wine or air to seep in or out of the bottle, which can alter the wine’s properties.
3. Ideal humidity is key
Keeping your wine in the ideal humidity also helps to maintain the wine’s properties. Storing it between 50% and 80% humidity is generally safe. Anything lower than 50% could dry out the corks, allowing oxygen to get inside the bottle and potentially spoil the wine. You could place a pan of water in the storage area to combat dryness. Conversely, high humidity can promote mold growth. While this won’t affect a well-sealed bottle of wine, it can damage the label. You could get a dehumidifier to address this issue. If you’re not sure about the humidity level in your wine storage location, you can buy a hygrometer to get an exact measurement of it.
4. Keep wine away from sources of light
Wine needs to be kept away from light sources regardless of how long you intend to store it. Wine’s sulfur-containing amino acids oxidize in sunlight, so UV rays will damage wine’s flavors. Therefore, to preserve its qualities, keep your wine away from sunlight as well as from fluorescent light fixtures.
White wine, which typically comes in clear bottles, is especially susceptible to damage incurred by sunlight whereas red wine, which typically comes in darker bottles, has a little more protection. If you don’t have a dark space for your wine and have to keep it on the kitchen counter, consider putting it in a box wrapped in a cloth.
5. Store corked bottles on their side
Corked bottles are best kept on a wine rack on their side. This way the cork stays moist, preventing seepage and premature aging. Keeping your bottled wine in an upright position could cause the cork to dry out, which could lead to spoilage. However, if your bottle has a cap or glass closure, you can store it either vertically or horizontally. The same is true for any bottle you plan to enjoy soon.
6. Steer clear of the fridge (and sources of vibration)
You can store your wine in the fridge short-term, but it isn’t ideal long-term. The fridge exposes the wine to various food odors and vibrations, which can disturb the sediment at the bottom of the bottle. After opening, white wine can be kept in the fridge for up to three days while red wine can be kept at room temperature for several days.
Vibrations speed up chemical reactions, thus damaging the wine. You’re better off not exposing your wine to any caused by appliances, such as the washer and dryer, stereo system and exercise equipment.
7. Consider storage options
When it comes to actual storage options, you need to first consider the amount of wine you have. If you only keep a few bottles around the house, you can probably keep them inside a wine fridge to make sure the wine keeps its properties.
If you’re a collector, you should probably consider specialized wine self storage, especially if you live in a humid climate. A climate-controlled unit is perfect as it ensures the wine sits at ideal temperature and humidity levels. This can be challenging if you live in a hot and humid climate such as the South, but self storage can help. Renting a self storage unit in Miami, Florida, Houston, Texas or Austin, Texas would be perfect if you live in those cities and have wine to preserve until your next party. If you’re storing a considerable amount of fine wine, make sure to also consider self storage insurance to cover all contingencies.
One word of advice: Once you place the wine in storage, take it out only when you plan on using it as repeated transportation can also affect its qualities.
8. Wine can come with an expiration date
While some wine is meant to age, most wines come with an expiration date. Even if an expiration date isn’t on the bottle – as wine is typically consumed within a short period of time – take this into account when you’re putting it in storage. Red wine typically lasts up to three years in storage while white wine can be safely stored for one to two years.
Wine that gets better with age and lasts for a decade or more comes with a particular level of tannins and sugar. Make sure you get your wine from a knowledgeable source.
Have you ever put your wine collection in storage? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below.