How to Properly Store Wine
Not all wines are meant to age!
Did you know that most wines should not be cellared or aged? If you have less expensive bottles of wine, keeping them for several years won’t make the wine taste better or worth more money. It will most likely taste much worse!
Many wineries create wines that are meant to be enjoyed now, rather than waiting. Some may require a few years of age when they peak and others are specifically created to be bottle aged for decades. Fine wines, such as those sold by many small wineries in Sonoma County, can last for several years and can get better with age. Always inquire at the winery as to when the best time is to open the wine and how long it is anticipated to last if you save it. Most bottled red wine can only be stored up to three years, while most bottled white wine can only be stored for one to two years.
If you are planning on storing wine, consider where you will store it. It will depend on how much wine you plan to store and for how long. Here are some guidelines to follow.
Store wine in a dry, dark place.
When storing wine, avoid direct sunlight and select somewhere that is dry and dark. Sunlight can cause wines to oxidize and change the flavor of the wine. White wine that is stored in clear bottles is especially susceptible to direct sunlight because the glass offers less protection than darker bottles. Be aware that incandescent light can also impact the integrity of the wine. Store wine at a consistent temperature and humidity.
If there’s one crucial tip to remember, it’s this: store your wine at the right temperature and humidity! The best temperature to store wine is between 45 and 65 degrees. Any temperature above 70 can cause the wine to spoil.
Aim for 55 degrees, but any temperature between 45 and 65 will do. The humidity level for storing your wine should hover around 70 percent to avoid dried out corks, which can allow air into the wine. Humidity higher than 70 percent can cause mold. You can check humidity levels with a hygrometer, found at your local hardware store.
It is also important to keep the air quality and temperature consistent. Fluctuating between cooler and warmer air can “cook” the wine, causing a stewed tomato flavor. The more consistent the environment, the longer the wine will last.
Many kitchens have a built-in wine rack, which may look nice but does not offer temperature control, especially if it is close to the ceiling. In addition, it is best not to store wine in the kitchen because wine breathes through the porous cork. Strong odors like food or trash can permeate the cork and taint the wine. If you have an opened bottle of wine with the cork put back in, keep it away from foods like garlic in the pantry or paint cans and cleaning products in the garage.
Don’t store corked wine bottles in an upright position.
While it may seem convenient to stand a few bottles above your cupboard to save space, it’s crucial to store wine on its side if it has a cork. Upright storage can cause the cork to dry out, which can lead to oxygen exposure and spoiled wine. Keep the cork moist at all times. After wine has been opened, whites should last in the fridge for up to three days. You may be able to get a few more days if you use a wine pump to remove most of the air and reseal the bottle. If there is more air space than wine in the bottle, it may not last very long. The more air that is in the bottle, the more likely it is to get oxidized more rapidly.
Once the wine is in storage, leave it there until you want to drink it.
Try to avoid moving your wine around too often. Picking up bottles of wine and putting them back on their side can negatively impact the wine. Utilizing a storage system will allow you to remove a single bottle of wine without disturbing the others. For this reason, it’s best not to stack wine bottles on top of each other or store them one in front of the other on a shelf.
So, if you have wine to be stored, follow these simple rules and you will get the most out of your wine purchases!