We’ve gotten into growing, winemaking, tasting, vocabulary, faults, etc., but what about after all that? If you’re starting to experiment with wine & discovering what really makes your palate dance, you may have stored up quite a collection so far, or at least thought about it. The next question is, how do I keep that wine fresh? That’s right, your knowledge doesn’t end at just drinking the wine… You need to know how to keep it, too. & Let’s get real. We’re newbies. Most of us will not have wine cellars or wine fridges to store our wine. If you do, great. If you don’t, join the club. I’ll be sharing some safe practices for both parties today; 5 simple points to consider when storing your wine. That way, you can make sure it stays in tip-top shape in any space!
Before making a decision for your bottle’s little hibernation, first ask yourself: How long will this wine last? Or ask whoever sold it to you because let’s be honest, we may not be quite *there* yet. Regardless of how you come by the information, knowing it will help you determine your best course of action. More quality wines will need a little extra care compared to your typical, everyday wines. We’ll get into that a little more as we go on…
As with most things in life, consistency is key—Especially with your wine’s temperature control. Putting your wine in a teeter-totter of changing climates is just as damaging as placing it in the sun on a hot day. Similarly, changing humidity levels can negatively affect the wine. Although, I wouldn’t be too worried about that last one. Humidity changes extreme enough to tarnish your wine are unlikely to occur in the modern home. Regardless, harmful bacteria or tarnished flavors & aromas can be caused by these fluctuations. Having said that, it is also not likely that you have a wine cellar just chilling in your house for you to use. & If you do, we’re all jealous, congratulations! We’ll give you some options later, but for now, let’s talk logistics.
Similar to serving wine, reds should be stored at warmer temperatures than whites or sparkling wines. The ideal range is typically between 45-65 for all wine, & considering that light plays a significant role in temperature levels, we want to be aware of that as well. Wine is one thing that doesn’t need to be cooked in the kitchen (Unless as an ingredient in a lovely entrée) … Especially by fluorescent ceilings. Needless to say, dark spaces are better for wine. So, keep it cool & keep it dark. Got it?
There’s a reason wineries & wine cellars are set up to have their bottles lay on their sides: It’s functional! Yeah, it’s pretty too, but that’s not why they do it. Laying bottles on their side prevents oxygen from seeping into the cork & letting it dry out. We all know how bad corked wine can be (Well, if you read my blog about it, you do!), so don’t be the one responsible for it. Get your bottle comfortable & lay it on its side!
The chemistry of wine is very intricate, right? Well, it’s actually so intricate that many people believe small vibrations (& I mean minuscule) in bottles can cause premature aging. While this is scientifically true, it does not necessarily need to be taken to the level of intensity that many wine-o’s take it to. Here’s how it works. Due to the additional motion (of vibrations or other foreign maneuvers), an increase of chemical reactions will occur inside & disturb the wine’s intended flavor. Chances are, you aren’t storing your wine for decades at a time, so the odds of movement destroying your wine for the long-term are slim. Just make sure you aren’t playing catch with your bottles & you should be golden.
Wine Fridge/ Cooler: Similar to a wine cellar, this is not a common household item one may possess, but it’s one of the only proper ways to store your wine long-term. They offer a range of sizes & storage options, & therefore a variety of pricing options as well. Smaller ones are more affordable, but you can always go for it & get a more extravagant one, as well. Nevertheless, they’re a bit more affordable than an entire room addition, so if you can get one & really are becoming serious about wine, get it! If not, don’t worry, read on, I got you!
Regular Fridge: The good news is, your regular fridge can check all of these boxes. The bad news is, it’s not ideal long-term. If you’re keeping a wine for a couple months (& even that’s a stretch), I’d say go for it. However, any longer than that, & you’re just making your wine duller & duller, day by day. Also, your red wine is probably better off aging in a cupboard or on the sink than in the fridge. There are other options, though!
Wine Rack: The most affordable option, but truly a gamble. If you have a cool, dark pantry, closet, or basement, that you can put one of these in, then you’re much better off than placing it on your kitchen sink. Yes, they’re pretty, but we care more about quality, right? However, should you desire to put it there anyways, make sure to take each of these tips into account when placing it. Also, only buy bottles when you know their expiration date (meaning both the wine’s intended age & when you think you’ll use it by) because long-term storage this way is not likely going to give you the wine you bought off the shelf.
If you’ve already opened your wine, but don’t finish the bottle, it should be fine for a few days, or even a week (as long as it’s sealed). For maximum freshness, cork it up! If you’re having trouble getting the cork back in, try wrapping a piece of wax paper around it (don’t overlap) & sliding it back in. If the cork broke when you opened the bottle, bottle stoppers are great alternatives. In fact, they’re even better than corks sometimes. Their rubber exterior against the glass bottle can do a better job preventing oxygen from re-entering the bottle. However, either one will do just fine. If you broke the cork & you don’t have any wine tools lying around, you’re going to have to get kinda crafty. Some people recommend putting foil around the top & sealing with a rubber band, or you could even make your own cork out of paper towels. As long as the seal is tight, it will be better than leaving it open… but not for long. Whatever way you do it, I recommend either drinking it within the next couple days, or high-tailing it to your local store in the morning (or you could order it to you too, of course). Because it’s short-term storage we’re talking about, keeping it in the fridge is probably your best option to limit the oxygen, light, & heat exposure, but if you insist on keeping out, you’ll be fine as long as you pay attention to the tips above!
Think you can handle it? Honestly, there’s not much to it. Just be aware of temperatures in your home & keep it steady wherever you store your wine. In fact, some of these tips may seem pretty obvious, & to that I say: YAY! Look how far you’ve come. If you haven’t thought about this aspect of your journey yet though, it’s time. Find all the yummy wine & build those collections, but more importantly, keep them fresh! There are still quite a few more things for us newbies to learn, but I’d say we’re pretty close to becoming wine-o’s ourselves, don’t ya think? Just not snobby ones… Gotta remember where we came from.
Bailey Morris, Marketing/ Gift Shop