Whether you’ve got a wine cellar or just 5 bottles, storing the wine properly is imperative if you want a superb taste when you eventually drink it.
This is because wine is sensitive to sunlight and UV light and wine bottles don’t provide much protection from either. Hence keeping wine in the wrong place like on the kitchen counter, or fridge top is a bad idea because that shortens the wine’s lifespan.
Most people have been storing wine wrongly for years and we are here to help shed more light on the situation. Our article will discuss the do’s and don’ts of wine storage, as well as, how to keep the wine fresh, healthy and safe at the right room temperature.
Why Is It Necessary to Store Wine Correctly?
The answer is simple, for the sheer pleasure of it. Wines are a sensitive beverage and require protection from heat, oxygen, light, and even vibration.
You have to take caution against these elements. They each contribute differently to wine spoilage. Heat for instance speeds up the aging process. You might decide to see this in a good light considering wine aging is a good thing. But, heat isn’t such a favorable prospect as you would think. It ruins the flavor and chemical compounds of wines.
So where a good wine ages naturally in good condition, a heat-forced aged wine does the opposite, essentially becoming a waste of money.
How Do You Know a Wine Has Been Damaged?
It boils down to color, smell, and taste. A stale wine has a distinct nutty flavor and would smell like musty cardboard or moldy basement. Wine spoilage occurs whether the wine is still corked or open.
The color of an oxidized white wine becomes darker, and brownish, while red wines will lose their color, turning russet and smelling and tasting like vinegar. Furthermore, if the wine isn’t supposed to have sparkles and suddenly develops bubbles, then the wine is bad.
Such development is a result of re-fermentation, which occurs when the wine is stored at too warm a temperature. Although drinking oxidized wine is not a health risk, it makes for an unpleasant experience with its sharp and sour taste.
How Long Can Wine Be Stored at Room Temperature?
Room temperature is usually around 70°F, a good temperature to store wines without damaging them. However, the temperature has to remain steady and not be disrupted by other storage conditions that are less than ideal like vibrations.
As it stands, most wines these days are manufactured to be consumed within a short span. Besides, it’s only a select few that purchase wine with the sole purpose of storing it long-term. Regardless, you can store wine at room temperature for months.
But you should know not all wine is built for aging, so try not to hold on to it for long, especially if the price is low. Both good and bad quality wine can spoil in under an hour if stored in a less-than-ideal situation. Lay the wine horizontally in a dark spot to get an optimal result.
Use wine cellars or wine refrigerators to age wines. A designated wine refrigerator gives you room to control the settings, helping to age the wine properly. On another note, if you open up a bottle of wine, it can only last 2 to 3 days at room temperature if properly sealed, especially for red wines.
In addition, higher quality wines tend to last longer once opened since they are more concentrated and structured, to begin with.
Use a silicone stopper after opening the wine to recork the bottle instead of reusing the wine’s cork. Silicone stoppers are your best bet for preventing oxygen from entering an opened wine.
How Does Refrigerating Wine Prevent Oxidation?
Putting wine in the fridge will keep it chilled, of course, and in turn, slow down the oxidation process. Typically, as soon as you pop the wine cork, and the wine is exposed to oxygen, it starts oxidizing. But putting it in a refrigerator will buy you an extra couple of days. Refrigeration won’t work miracles but it can help some.
On a broader note, wine appreciates consistency. What this means is, if you store them in the fridge, you should put them back in the fridge after serving. It’s especially beneficial for sparkling wines, whites, and roses as it helps maintain the bubbles.
Storing wine at room temperature after chilling could negatively affect the wine’s taste. So store wine at a constant steady temperature for the majority of its aging.
Tips for Storing Wine
Storing the wine right will help determine its survival for long-term storage. Here are some great tips to help you store both red and white wines:
Protect From Direct Sunlight and Heat Sources
You have to keep the wine away from heat sources and sunlight regardless of how long you intend to store the wine, or the wine brand.
Store Wine Bottles Horizontally
Store wines with corks horizontally to keep the cork moist. This is a key ingredient for long-term storage because dried corks might cause premature aging and seepages. You can also store screw-top wines horizontally.
Store in a Cool, Dark Place With Consistent Temperatures
Temperature is important for wine storage. It single-handedly determines the wine status after long storage, which is why you should take care of it. The wine temperature during storage has to be consistent. Constant fluctuation can lead to spoilage.
Generally, the ideal temperature to store wine both long and short-term is around 55ºF (13ºC). However, it’s not set in stone because wine production differs and some wines might require you to store them at a particular temperature. In situations like this, stick to the recommended manufacturer temperature.
Keep the Proper Humidity
Humidity is important for wine storage. If it’s too extreme or too low, it will affect the longevity of your wine. Low humidity also dries out your cork, which in turn leaves the wine vulnerable to oxygen penetration.
Invest in a Wine Fridge
The fridge you use for wine storage determines how it would come out after long storage. A regular fridge could have other food items, which might not allow you to set the fridge settings favorably for the wine.
But having a wine fridge gives you the leeway to design the controls for an optimal condition for wine storage. Also, you do not have to worry about cross-contamination from food odors.
Store Wine in Places With No Vibrations
Vibrations are another condition to look out for during wine storage. Vibrations from equipment like a washer, stereo system, exercise area, fridge, etc. disturb certain sediments in the wine, which disrupts the wine aging process.
Invest in Cork Stoppers or Vacuum Pump
Cork stoppers are wonderful for long-term storage. It helps keep the wine fresh, preventing the cork from drying out.
Other Places You Can Store Wine
Pantries are usually dark, and cool, which makes them a convenient place to store wine in the house. Putting the wine on a lower shelf is better than having them on a high shelf. This is because anyone including you can walk in and switch on the light. Another good thing is pantries don’t have running appliances that can generate heat and vibrations.
Basements are a good place to store wines without needing to build a temperature-controlled cellar. It’s cool and never gets too hot in the summer. Also, it’s dark and usually humid enough to keep the cork moist, preventing it from drying off. If you’re to store them in your basement, ensure to keep them away from any appliance you might have there.
Most people store their wine in their closets – in the bottom back away from light. Or they convert and design makeshift racks to hold the wine in their closet. It’s a convenient place to store wines. You can easily access them in the closet without needing to visit the basement.
Wines can stay months at room temperature without going bad. However, some wines have higher production quality than others. As such, where one wine might thrive, another might struggle.
The recommended way to store wines is in dark places away from light, heat, and oxygen. If you don’t consume all your wine once you open it, use a silicone stopper. It will buy you a couple of days before going bad.
Do not keep wines on kitchen counters, refrigerator tops, near ovens, or appliances. Light, heat, oxygen, and vibrations can easily get to them in such places. Oxidized wine can’t hurt you. It just has a stale taste no one cares for.