5 Basic tips for Wine101
Anyone with a few bottles of wine on hand at home can benefit from learning these five W’s of proper wine storage.
The idea of wine storage may evoke images of a vast cellar filled with dusty bottles of priceless vintage Bordeaux. But anyone with a few bottles on hand at home can benefit from learning these five W’s of proper wine storage.
Who: Any serious collector worth his tannin will want to purchase a professional quality wine cooling system, which can cost upwards of $1,000. Everyone else, from weekend wine drinkers to armchair oenophiles, need only follow a few basic storage guidelines to preserve wine at its best without breaking the bank.
Why: Not every wine is designed to age for a decade or more. In fact, most wines are meant to be consumed much sooner—within a year or two after they hit the market. Still, like most items of quality, wine fairs best when stored with certain environmental factors in mind.
What: The pros advise storing a wine bottle on its side so that the wine comes in contact with the cork, thus preventing the cork from drying out. Bottles with screw-top closures or plastic corks can be stored vertically, though horizontal storage is often more compact and practical. Wine storage racks are easy to come by at most home décor shops or wine stores. If you tend to store more than a few bottles at a time, and have the space and funds to spare, consumer-grade wine coolers start at about $300.
Where: This fourth W is the key to proper wine storage. The best place to store wine in your home isn’t necessarily a particular room, but rather wherever the storage conditions are optimal. Wine should be stored in an area that is cool, but not cold (8-18º Celsius); humid, but not too humid (50-80% humidity); and relatively dark. Temperatures above 20º Celsius could cause the wine to “cook,” which affects its flavor and longevity. When wine is stored below 8º Celsius or in too arid a location, the cork may become dry and allow air to enter the bottle. Too much humidity, on the other hand, can lead to mold, while too much sunlight can cause the wine to age too soon.
When: The above rules apply if you’re planning to store wine as briefly as a few days or as long-term as a year or two. If you’ve invested in bottles that you plan to allow to age for several years, wine professionals recommend also investing in a professional storage system.