Properly storing your wine can mean the difference between being able to enjoy nice bottles over an extended period and throwing out what is essentially expensive grape juice gone bad. Even if you have just a few bottles, maintaining an ideal environment is an essential part of collecting wine, and the right conditions can allow it to evolve and age well over the short or long-term. Fortunately, you don't need an entire underground cave or super high-tech cellar to maintain the integrity of your wine. Here are a few key tips to remember.
Keep it cool, but not too cool
Like Goldilocks, wine needs conditions that are just right — not too hot or too cold, not too dry or too humid. WALT Winemaker Megan Gunderson Paredes says the biggest mistake in storing wine is allowing it to become too warm or too cold. Ideally, for both red and whites, the storage temperature should be about 55 degrees.
Location, location, location.
Gunderson Paredes recommends keeping bottles in a refrigerator designed to store wine, but that’s not your only option. “If you don’t have access to one, try to find a cool, slightly humid area in your home — a basement or an interior room.” You also want to keep the temperature and humidity as consistent as possible.
If you are investing in a wine fridge, there are plenty of options — from countertop to built-in versions. The right size for you depends on how much room and how many bottles you have. Still, Gunderson Paredes recommends getting one that has a couple of different temperature zones to accommodate different types of wines. "I would store white wines at a lower temperature a few hours before you plan to consume them," she says. "I also prefer to drink Pinot Noir on the cooler side, around 35-40 degrees (the temperature of an average refrigerator)."
Wine fridges are insulated, which means you don't have to worry too much about their location or the room's temperature or humidity. Feel free to put it on full display or tuck it away in a back room. Gunderson Paredes says hers is in her garage.
Store bottles sideways
“You should always store a wine bottle on its side to keep the wine in contact with the cork,” says Gunderson Paredes. “Before drinking, stand the bottle upright for a least a couple of hours. This will allow any sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle, and you can cleanly decant the wine before drinking.”
Recork to store open wine.
You don't have to drink an open bottle of wine immediately (but you can). If you're in the mood to enjoy a glass or two or try a few different wines, there are ways to prolong the life of a bottle. "To store wine after opening, I would give it a little bit of inert gas and insert the cork. Ideally, you would consume the remainder of the bottle within a day or two," advises Gunderson Paredes. For a more expensive bottle, she says to try the Coravin system, which essentially allows you to drink a bottle of wine without removing the cork, preventing excessive oxidation. “This allows you to access the wine through the cork and drink one bottle over many months.”
Essential Tips for Storing Wine
|Temperature is key||Keep both red and white wine at ~55 degrees|
|Store in a place with consistent conditions||Whether you use a wine fridge or a storage room, make sure the temperature and humidity are consistent|
|Keep bottles lying sideways||Store bottles sideways to keep the wine in contact with the cork|
|Recork open bottles||Recork or use a Coravin system (which leaves the cork in) to extend the life of open bottles|