How to Store Your Wines Properly
There are few things as disappointing than opening a wine only to find that it is less than satisfactory. But here’s the good news – the wine aficionado knows how to store wines properly, making sure they are drinkable for several years to come. Herewith some tips:
First, never store wines closed with natural cork in an upright position. There’s a very good reason why most wine racks are designed in such a way to store bottles horizontally. We do this to keep the corks wet. But why? Corks can become brittle over a period of time and once they do, the wine can become exposed to oxygen, resulting in a wine referred to as oxidized. An oxidized wine smells musty, porty, raisin and prune-like.
Ever wondered why temperatures are also cool in wine cellars? Temperature plays a big role in the preservation of wines. When temperatures fluctuate, natural cork closures dilate and shrink, causing the cork to lose its natural elasticity. And once this happens, the wine can leak, and air may seep into the wine. The greater the changes in temperature a wine suffers, the greater the premature ageing of the wine from over-breathing. Wines are stored best in conditions where the temperatures are cool and constant. The ideal storage temperature for any wine is around 12°C, so next to the fireplace in your living room is really a bad idea, even though you may think it looks cool.
Sunlight can also damage your wines, so store them away from any direct sunlight. The same goes for fluorescent light. If you don’t have the luxury of an underground cellar, an unused cupboard will do, although this is not ideal. Your best bet is still a proper wine cooler, although they don’t come cheap. If you do store your wines in a cupboard, make sure the cupboard is not adjacent to a wall which is exposed to direct sunlight or any heat. This is also why red wines, often made to age and mature longer than white wines, are often bottled in darker glass than white wines. Now you know.
It is never a good idea to store your wines in the kitchen (remember those fluorescent lights?), even though you may be tempted to have that delicious bottle of wine at the ready when you cook. Kitchens are often warm and hot where the stove and oven works overtime. And for the love of fine wine, do not store your precious wines on top of anything that can remotely vibrate such as a microwave oven, fridge, dishwasher, music system or washing machine. Not that I was expecting a music system in a kitchen, but hey, it’s your kitchen.
Wines like it cool and dark, but also moist, so keep the humidity at approximately 70%. High humidity keeps the cork from drying and minimizes evaporation. Too much humidity, on the other hand, can encourage the growth of mould and damage the wine labels.
If you have opened a bottle of wine and have not finished it, how long will it keep? Wine never tastes quite the same the next day. But if you really cannot finish the bottle and want to keep some for later, remember to replace the cork and store it in the fridge. You can store an open bottle of red wine in the fridge for approximately three days, or two days if it is a white wine.