Wine, at its best, is an affordable luxury. But are you storing yours correctly?
Perhaps you already know how to get the most out of a bottle of wine that’s already opened (ahem, Coravin!) And maybe you don’t have a cellar. But that’s OK; most experts agree that unless you have a ton of high-end wines, you’re fine with home storage. (If you do have a ton of high-end wine, it’s perhaps time to consider professional-grade storage.
But how to pull this off? The good news is that by and large, it’s as simple as lying the bottle on its side and keeping it cool. Allow us to elaborate.
1. Lie It On Its Side
Placing the bottle on its side is mostly about preserving the cork. You lie it down so the cork doesn’t dry out. A bottle standing up has a cork that will shrink over time, which is how wine gets oxidized. (This is different from wine that is “corked,” or has a “wet dog” smell; that’s produced by a compound called TCA, which has worked its way into the winemaking environment.) Got screwcaps, glass or plastic corks? It’s less of a concern.
2. Keep It Cool
Cook with wine. Don’t cook the wine. That’s as simple as it is to keep your wine it good shape. Most experts vouch for 55 degrees, but you generally want yours to stay between 45 and 65 degrees. You don’t want it up near 70 degrees, which is when that wine starts cooking (and becoming less tasty). Note that most refrigerators hover a little cooler than 45 degrees, so if you’re a big wine drinker, consider a special wine fridge.
3. Turn Off the Bright Lights
Your fridge is OK in a pinch, but know that wine doesn’t love getting too cold, and it doesn’t love having bright lights shining on it, either. Sunlight in particular, with its UV rays, can pose problems for longer-term storage.
4. Moisture and Stability Matter
You can keep wine on your counter, looking pretty, for up to about a week if light and heat aren’t issues, but you should also consider not bumping them around too much, and make sure there’s a decent amount of humidity where you are. No shaking because you can disturb the sediment, and because some theorize that overly “vibrating” wine can speed up chemical reactions in the bottle. And if you live somewhere very dry, like the American Southwest, know that wine loves a humidity level between 50 and 80 percent, so you might be putting a pan of water in the room where you store yours or investing in a wine storage unit with a hygrometer. This is all about keeping the corks happy, so unless you’re in Arizona, it may not be a big concern.
OK! Now go forth and enjoy more wine.