The Do's & Don'ts of Wine Storage

The Do's & Don'ts of Wine Storage

Wine is like an old friend, it gets better with age.

However, to help your friendship blossom, you have to keep the conditions right. Spend time with your friend, forgive little hurts, help them when they need it, and accept help in turn. 

Likewise, wine need to be kept in the right conditions for the flavors to blossom correctly. Keep a bottle in the back of your kitchen cabinet for 5 years will likely result in a flat flavored wine at best and a moldy, spoiled one at worst.

That's why you need to learn how to properly store wine if you want to enjoy a rich, delicious glass of aged wine. 

The good news is that storing wine in the right conditions is even easier than maintaining a good friendship. Let's take a quick look at the dos and don'ts of proper wine storage here.

Do Keep it Cool

Wine does not like heat or temperature fluctuations. Store your wine at an even temperature between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. The sweet spot is around 50-58 degrees, so aim for that if possible.

Don't ever let your wine warm to over 70 degrees. You'll end up with 
"cooked" wine full of flat aromas and flavors — not what you want in a good bottle of wine.  

That means attics and storage sheds are not the best places to store your wine. These areas tend to heat up quite a bit and the temperature can vary significantly. 

A better spot is a cool basement that isn't too damp or even the back of a little-used closet. 

Don't Keep it in the Refrigerator

The refrigerator is not an adequate place to store wine. When you're ready to enjoy a bottle of white, put it in the fridge an hour or so before you're ready to serve to chill it. Other than that, don't keep your wine in the fridge.

The refrigerator is too cold for wine storage. The cold can cause the cork to shrink and allow air into the bottle, damaging the wine. 

Also, avoid freezing temperatures, such as an unheated garage or leaving it too long in the freezer. The liquid will expand as it freezes, potentially pushing out the cork or even breaking the bottle, leaving you with a mess on your hands and no wine with which to console yourself. 

Do Turn off the Lights

Light, particularly the UV rays of sunlight, can have a negative effect on the quality of your wine, by aging it prematurely That's a big reason why wine comes in colored bottles. The dark glass helps protect the wine from exposure to light.

Keep your bottles extra safe by storing them away from sunlight. It's best to keep the lights off as much as possible as well. 

If possible, use incandescent bulbs in your wine storage area. Fluorescent lightbulbs emit a small amount of UV radiation that can affect your wine. If you don't plan to store your wine for years, this might not be too big of a deal. However, it's also a very simple way to protect your wine so it makes sense to do it. 

Don't Shake Things Up

Some experts say that vibrations can speed up the chemical reactions in wine. The idea is that this could damage the wine over time. Some wine enthusiasts are so concerned about it that they worry about even the vibrations from nearby electronic equipment. 

In reality, there is little evidence documenting a significant effect from minor vibrations. It is possible that excessive vibrations could stir up sediment in older wines, giving them an undesirable gritty texture, but the effect is minimal. Not to mention you'd have to store your wine in a train station for it to experience that much vibration.

However, you should avoid disturbing your wine as much as possible. Move it around as little as possible and don't take out your bottles and shake them up. Reserve that for bottles of champagne at New Year's.  

Do Store Bottles on Their Side

Storing wine bottles on their side is a great way to save on space yet still easily access all your wines. However, there's a more pressing reason to keep your wine bottles on their sides. 

A wine bottle on its side will allow the wine to touch the cork and keep it moist. A dried-out cork will shrink slightly, potentially allowing air to seep into the bottle. This can completely spoil the wine.

If your bottles have screw caps or plastic corks, this storage method isn't strictly necessary. But it still is a great space saver. It's also easy to find ready-made wine racks using this orientation.

Do Buy a Wine Cooler

What if you don't have a room in your home that fits all the required conditions? Basements, though typically cool and dark, can often be too humid leading to mold and spoilage problems. A closet might be dark and dry, but the temperature may not be cool enough or fluctuate too much.

If you have a small collection, a wine cooler is an excellent option. Units keep your wine at a consistent temperature, typically around 55 degrees F. Accessibility options vary, so be sure to think about how you want to see and access your wines.

Some units come with UV blocking glass, humidity controls, or even multiple temperature zones to separate whites from reds. 

Another great option for long-term storage is offsite wine storage. Keep your wines in the perfect conditions at a specially designed facility. This will reduce the chance of your wines spoiling over the long-term. 

The last thing you want is to wait 10 years for a glass of wine, only to find it has gone bad.

Now You Know How to Properly Store Wine

Learning how to properly store wine is essential if you want to be a good wine connoisseur, or even just enjoy a glass now and then. Without proper storage practices, your wine won't be nearly as delicious.

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