Wine 101 – How to Store Wine | By Mark Thomas Walters
How to store wine is the topic for this installment of our wine 101 guide…
The first thing you need to know when it comes to wine storage is to place your bottles on their side somewhere relatively cool and free from direct light. Doing so will minimize damage (mainly in terms of deterioration of taste and flavors) to the wine and allow you to store it for as long as you desire. However, knowing a bit more about wine storage will help you get the best out of your bottles.
Temperature is an important factor when you’re dealing with wine. Keeping your wines between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal; though a range of 45 to 65 degrees is considered acceptable. If your temperature is too low, your wine will not age properly. A higher, warmer temperature causes premature aging (not in a good way).
The worst thing you can do to your wine is subject it to varying temperatures. As bad as it is, a steady temperature in extreme heat or cold is much better than constantly varying temperatures, even if the change is within the ideal range. The temperature should never fluctuate more than 5 degrees a day; this is especially important for red wines, which can be more damaged than whites from fluctuations.
Another important element to wine storage is humidity; if your storage area is too dry, the corks on your bottles will dry out and allow air to get inside, which can lead to damaged wine. Try to keep your storage areas humidity level at around 70 to 80 percent, you can buy a hygrometer to keep track of this.
A wine cellar is the ideal place for storing wine because it maintains the optimal humidity and temperature; however, they aren’t practical for most people because of their size and cost. A basement or garage can be used to get similar results though. Making some space in either and purchasing a wine rack and temperature / humidity gauge are highly recommended if you intend on storing more than a few bottles of wine at a time.
As for how long to store it for, this depends on the type of wine, the region the wine was made in, the technique used to make it, and the particular year the grapes were harvested in. However, a good rule of thumb is to age reds for up to 10 years and whites for no more than a year or two. If you’re starting out, aging charts (which are available free online) can help you see when a wine is typically best enjoyed.
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