Wine is an ever-present drink in fine dining restaurants and other food establishments. It is a crowd favourite and the perfect match for mouthwatering steaks.
If you’re someone who likes to drink wine with dinner or during special occasions, you may want to keep a stash ready at home.
But take heed: How you store your wine bottles affect the quality and flavour of the wine when you finally decide to drink it.
This means you must first learn the best storage practices to make sure your wines remain in their prime condition until you decide to open a bottle. Want to know how? This article offers a quick guide in wine storage and explains what you should and shouldn’t do in the process.
Maintain the ideal storage temperature.
Out of the factors that influence the quality of wine in storage, the temperature is arguably the most crucial of all. Unsuitably cold or warm storage could destroy what would have been a delicious wine.
Generally, the ideal temperature for short- and long-term wine storage is 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit). However, this can vary across different types of wine.
To know the best storage temperature for the bottle you got, check the manufacturer’s recommendations or ask the staff in a liquor store in Dubai where you bought it from.
Read wine storage temperature guides.
Always read storage temperature guides, especially if you intend to save a big stash of wine bottles for later.
As mentioned earlier, this varies from wine to wine, but you can use the following list as a benchmark:
- Red wine: 12 to 19 degrees Celsius (53.6 to 66.2 degrees Fahrenheit)
- White wine: 8 to 12 degrees Celsius (46.4 to 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Champagne: 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (41 to 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit)
You may also find wine storage guides when you buy wine online or research them on the Internet.
To create the best conditions for wine storage, consider the following storage options:
- Wine cellar: The best way to keep wine bottles in perfect condition because the temperature and humidity can be controlled; a cost-effective and bespoke option for every home.
- Closet wine cellar: Perfect for wine enthusiasts; the most straightforward storage place for varying sizes of wine bottle collections.
- Wine cabinet or refrigerator: Two of the most reliable ways to keep the temperature at the ideal range: considered worthwhile investments for wine merchants and professionals; comes in a wide variety of sizes to cater to different wine collection sizes.
Keep wine away from light.
Light – particularly sunlight – can potentially lead to long-term storage issues as the ultraviolet (UV) rays can prematurely age the wine.
This is the very reason why vintners (wine merchants) use coloured glass bottles to make sure any accidental exposure to light won’t degrade the wine. Think of them as sort of like sunglasses for the wine.
You must beware of some household bulbs as well, though incandescent light could be safer than fluorescent ones because they emit very little UV light.
As a general rule, ensure that your wine bottle’s light exposure is very minimal.
Store bottles horizontally.
Wine bottles have been traditionally stored on their side, but that’s not just a way of making them look fancy.
Horizontal racking keeps the liquid against the cork to prevent it from drying out. When the cork dries out it would eventually result in wine oxidation.
Of course, this method of arranging your wine bottles in storage is not necessary for screw-top caps and glass or plastic corks. You may not even need to do this if you’re planning to consume the wine near- to mid-term.
However, horizontal racking does make for an efficient way to store your bottles to maximise space and support ease of access (not to mention it does your wines no harm).
Forget to check the storage humidity.
Like the temperature, you also need to check the humidity in your wine storage facility.
If it’s too high, you may be faced with a mould problem (plus, the labels on your wine bottles could loosen and deteriorate). If it’s too low, the cork could dry out and make the wine more vulnerable to the effects of oxidation.
With that in mind, make sure the humidity rate in your wine storage doesn’t go over 70 per cent. (Some experts say that 60 per cent to 68 per cent humidity is the safe range for sealed bottles.)
Use a thermo hygrometer to check the humidity. If the air is too dry, put a pan of water inside the storage area to increase humidity. On the other hand, extremely damp air can be adjusted using a dehumidifier.
Fail to maintain a consistent temperature.
Besides ensuring the ideal temperature is achieved in wine storage, you must also keep it stable. Temperature fluctuations can lead to the expansion and contraction of the cork, which could spell trouble for the quality of your wine.
Of course, you don’t have to throw away an unopened bottle just because you suspect that the temperature fluctuated for a bit. Chances are, the bottles have gone through worse during transit from the winery to the liquor store. It’s always best to open them and sample the wine first before deciding if it’s ruined.
Store the wine where it’s too cold or too hot.
Although there’s an ideal storage temperature, it’s virtually impossible to keep it that way for all time. This is the very reason why experts recommend a temperature range with a maximum and minimum number.
Never store wine where it could freeze, which is below -4 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit), regardless of what type of wine it is.
It shouldn’t be too high either; the ceiling is 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) to prevent accelerated ageing and the destruction of the wine’s volatile compounds.
Keep wine in a regular fridge.
While average wine drinkers can use their regular fridge to keep bottles they will soon open, you shouldn’t do the same if you plan to stock wine for mid- to long-term.
If there’s no available space that is steadily dark, cool, and moist, you can buy a wine refrigerator to keep your wine bottles in perfect condition.
Unlike a regular fridge used for food that maintains a frigid and dry environment, this variant can maintain the temperature and humidity range ideal for wine storage. Separating your wine from food also prevents cross-contamination of odour.
Forgo proper storage for open bottles.
Opened wine bottles can keep for several days or several weeks, depending on the type of wine and amount of liquid left.
Of course, the method of storage is also critical. If you want your open wine to last as long as possible, make sure you re-cork it tightly and promptly.
Here are some tips on proper open wine storage:
- Put wax paper around the cork before sliding it back to its original position. This will ease it into place and ensure no stray cork residue is accidentally mixed into the wine.
- If re-corking is no longer possible, use a rubber wine stopper to seal the bottle tightly.
- Use a vacuum pump to suck the air out of an open wine bottle to create an almost-airtight seal.
Enjoy Your Wine
Wine is a favourite beverage among many people.
Protect your stash by using these tips on proper wine storage to ensure it keeps its quality until you’re ready to consume it.