So, you traveled to Napa Valley and bought more bottles of wine than you could possibly drink in the near future. Or, maybe you bought a lot of a particular vintage because that year has special meaning to you and you’re looking to save for the future. Or, maybe you just enjoy collecting wines and prefer drinking aged bottlings. Whatever the case may be, it would be tragic to start a collection of age-worthy wine without also using proper storage techniques. There are four keys to storing your wine in order for it to age well and be enjoyable years from its release date.
1. Temperature is Everything
The ideal temperature range for storing wine is between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing wine at a temperature higher than this range may cause your wine to age at an undesirable rate. Additionally, aim to store your wine at a consistent temperature, as large fluctuations will negatively impact your wine. Storing wine in an area with little or no humidity is also not recommended. Low humidity levels cause corks to shrink which degrades the integrity of the closure and allows minute amounts of oxygen into the bottle, causing oxidation.
2. Turn the Lights Off
It is true that a lot of colored glass bottles used for wine have UV filters, but this does not guarantee full protection. Exposing your wine to consistent sunlight causes premature aging and deeply affects the flavor of the wine. Household lights shouldn’t cause too much damage, but your best bet is to store your wine somewhere with little to no light, like a basement or cellar. If neither of those is an option for you, opt for an area of your house away from doorways and windows.
3. Keep it Horizontal
Storing wine bottles on their side allows the wine to be in constant contact with the cork, preventing the cork from drying out and allowing oxygen inside. Bottles with alternative closures, such as screw caps or plastic corks, should not be stored like this, as it can cause them to leak over time.
4. Don’t Shake It
While subtle movements and vibrations will not impact your wine, frequently moving bottles prevents them from settling, making the wine unpleasantly gritty. This is mostly true for older wines, but isn’t as much of a concern for short-term storage. You should always avoid rattling your bottles during transport, but small movements are nothing to be concerned about.
If you are serious about collecting and aging wine, you’ll want to ensure that you have an optimal storage space where nothing will impact the flavor of your wine. If you don’t have a basement or wine cellar, look for an area of your house that doesn’t experience extreme temperature fluctuations and is away from windows. Avoid storing wine in your kitchen, as this area of your house tends to heat up when you use the oven, stovetop and dishwasher. Additionally, avoid your laundry room, garage and closet with the water heater.
If your wine collection is too large to store at home, professional storage is an option. Look into storing your wine with the merchant who sold it to you or using professional wine warehouse specialists. Ultimately, you want your wine collection to be safe and ready for enjoying anytime. Follow these steps and you’re sure to have a collection that you’re proud to share!