Are you a wine lover, but aren’t sure about how to store it properly, or have you perhaps bought a bit too many bottles of wine for the party and don’t know what to do with them now?
Whatever the case may be, in this article, we are going to explain to you everything that you need to know about how to store wine to preserve its quality.
To Bust Some Myths First
You must have heard all too many times that wine gets finer as it ages, right? Well, while this is true in some circumstances, it’s not true in all of them! Only a small percentage of fine wines on the market benefit from long-term aging, and for it to happen, the storage must be very specific. The aging process happens before bottling – the wine sits in a barrel in very strict conditions, gaining aroma both from the wood and from the slow processes that occur with limited oxygen input. After the wine is bottled, there is a very little amount of change that can happen (for the better).
Are You Storing a Closed Wine?
If the wine wasn’t opened in the first place and you follow all the necessary steps to preserve it, it will surely maintain its quality for a couple of years down the road. So, let’s talk about how to do that in more detail.
The Importance of Temperature
Temperature is extremely important when it comes to storing wine properly – especially long term. Basically, the temperature shouldn’t be too cold or too hot, and we’re talking about a very strict range here.
The Optimal Temperature
The ideal temperature for storage of about a few weeks is around 55ºF (13ºC), but it can vary depending on the wine. It would also be best if the temperature was kept constant, and since a regular fridge operates on lower temperatures that can oscillate – it would be best to use a wine fridge, which you can learn more on this site, regarding quality, usage, and price ranges. Stability and optimized constant conditions are the key points when it comes to preserving wine quality because temperature oscillations can cause the cork to expand and contract which further leads to air coming in and catalyzing the spoiling process.
What You Should Avoid
No matter what type of wine is in question, you should never keep it below 25 °F (-4ºC). It could cause the wine to freeze, and if that happens, you might as well throw it away. On the other hand, keeping wine at temperatures above 68°F (20°C) can accelerate the aging process in a bad way, since it will lead to the destruction of the volatile compounds.
Horizontal or Vertical?
This is something that might seem unimportant at the first glance, it actually plays a pretty important role. If the bottle of wine has a cork, the cork must stay moist – especially for long-term storage. Why so, you might ask? Well, dried out cork can cause seepage as well as premature aging, and to prevent that, you should store your bottles horizontally, so that wine’s in contact with the cork.
What If My Bottle Doesn’t Have a Cork?
While horizontal storage is important for the corked wines, if the bottle has an alternative closure – it isn’t necessary. But, keep this in mind, horizontal racking is a more space-efficient way to store wine bottles, and it definitely can’t in any way harm your wines.
Turn off the Lights!
It doesn’t matter if you’re storing wine for months, weeks, or days – you should keep it in the dark as much as possible. The reason for this is the fact that UV rays from direct sunlight tend to damage the crucial wine components that are responsible for its flavors and aromas.
What If You Have Already Opened the Bottle?
Okay, so, we have already stated that a bottle of wine that wasn’t opened, if preserved well, can last for years – but what about the bottles that you already opened? Well, if you store a bottle properly, it can last for about 3-5 days. The most important thing when it comes to extending the shelf life of an open wine as well as preserving its quality is to recork it promptly and tightly. The most efficient way to do this is to use wax paper because it’ll ease the cork into the bottle and it will also ensure that no stray parts of the cork drop into the bottle. In case that the cork has been splintered or discarded, you can always use a rubber stopper to create a tight seal.
The main things that you should focus on when it comes to storing wine are the temperature, light sources, keeping the bottle horizontal if it’s corked, and overall – being consistent. If you tend to all of these perimeters, your wine will surely retain quality for a long time.