The bridge between enjoying wine and understanding it is a long, rickety one suspended over a deep ravine. Vino has a history as long as mankind itself. Those who call themselves masters of the bottle can spend decades honing the skills necessary to grasp the intricacies of a good wine.
In recent years, wine has become a more accessible hobby-- a quick Google search provides more information than anyone really needs on buying, tasting, and enjoying a good glass. But the question of how to store wine eludes many enthusiasts.
Most of us don't live in grand houses with ancient wine cellars sprawling beneath. But whether you live in a high-rise condo or a house in the suburbs, you can create a wine storage solution to fit your needs and your home. Here are a few tips on the proper care and keeping of your best bottles!
How to Store Wine: The Beginner's Guide
The What: Anything That Comes in a Bottle!
Even "two-buck chuck" should get some respect! Wine left out on the counter goes bad quickly, and no one wants to drink vinegar.
Other alcoholic beverages benefit from careful storage, as well. When in doubt, ask someone at your local liquor store what conditions will suit your purchases best.
The When: As Soon As You Get Home
Though a bottle can survive on the kitchen counter for a couple of weeks without noticeable harm, it's not a good idea to leave it sitting out long-term. Unless you plan to open the bottle within a few hours of purchase, go ahead and put it away.
Wine stored correctly can maintain its integrity and taste for years. The world's oldest unopened bottle of wine is over 1,500 years old! (We wouldn't suggest drinking it, but experts consider some wines from the 18th century still drinkable due to high sugar content.)
The Where: Someplace Cool and Dark
Most houses don't come equipped with a 500-year-old cellar set into the side of a mountain in the French countryside. Wherever you choose to store your wine, make sure it checks all the environmental boxes. Ideal wine storage answers to a triumvirate of conditions: light, temperature, and humidity.
Overexposure to light can do a lot of harm to a bottle of wine. The issue is unfortunately common-- stores are often brightly lit, and even your kitchen lights can be too much. Many winemakers use dark green or blue bottles to help prevent light damage.
You should also consider the proper wine storage temperature. Whether it's a red, white, or rose, wine should never cool beyond 45 degrees Fahrenheit or heat beyond 65. That means your refrigerator might be just as bad for your wine as leaving it on the counter.
Wine should also reside somewhere with a bit of humidity. Dry air is the enemy of the cork-- if it dries out, oxygen may enter the bottle and cause oxidization. But be careful! High levels of humidity may cause other problems, including mold and bacteria growth.
If your basement meets these criteria, it may be a great location for wine storage. But if you're worried about fluctuating temperatures and humidity as the seasons change, or you don't have access to a basement, you're not out of luck.
The How: Consider a Wine Cooler
A wine cooler is a great option for storage. They come in a variety of sizes to accommodate your space and wine collection and address many threats to your wine's well-being.
A single-zone cooler suits most collections. The cooler maintains a programmable temperature, and high-end models may even come equipped with interior lighting at the perfect frequency to discourage mold and bacteria growth. If you don't have room in your kitchen for a large appliance, you can even purchase a counter-top model that holds just eight bottles.
Also an option: a dual-zone wine cooler. Some collectors prefer to keep different wine varietals at different temperatures. Those who entertain often may want to store a case of champagne long-term at a warmer temperature to preserve the delicate flavors, but chill it to proper serving temperature before a big event.
Whether you choose a wine cooler or a temperature-controlled basement room, always store your wine on its side so the cork doesn't dry out. Additionally, you'll want to keep your wine as stable as possible. Theories vary, but the wisdom of crowds indicates shaking can redistribute sediments in a bottle and alter the flavor. At the very least, vibrations can make the liquid cloudy and unappealing in the glass.
The Why: Preservation and Simple Enjoyment
There are a great many practical reasons for storing wine long-term. A collector may come across a bottle while on vacation, and buy an entire case just in case she can't find it at her wine store back home. Or perhaps a professor of Napoleonic France always keeps a few bottles of the erstwhile emperor's favorite wine, a gift for friends on special occasions.
Or maybe a newly-married couple honeymooning in France bought a bottle from every winery they visited, and plan to open one every anniversary until they run out-- memories uncorked and revisited one glass at a time.
Whatever the reason, time shouldn't be an obstacle to enjoying a glass of wine after a long day. Knowing how to store wine can extend the life of your favorite bottles.
Making Your Decision
Now you know how to store your wine! If you want a wine cooler in your life, but the options overwhelm you, we're happy to help. Browse our complete selection or contact us so we can help you pick the ideal wine cooler for your collection.