Guide to storing and ageing wine

Wine has its own rules of storage just like other manufactured products. How best you store your wine will determine its lifespan and will also have impact on its taste. Therefore, you should consider the following measures with regard to wine storage:

Store wine at the proper temperature

Of all the factors influencing the quality of stored wine, temperature is perhaps the most important. Unsuitably warm or cold temperature is a sure way to spoil wine. In general, the ideal temperature for long-term or short-term wine storage is around 55F [130c], but this can vary from wine to wine. For temperature recommendations about specific wines, consult the manufacturer. Regardless of the type or label, wine should be kept below 25F [-40c], which can cause wine to freeze, or above 68F [200c], which can accelerate the aging process and destroy volatile compounds. Most importantly, your wine storage temperature should be kept as stable as possible. Temperature fluctuations can cause the cork to expand and contract, allowing wine to seep out (or air to seep in) around it.

Protect wine from light and vibration

Whether you’re storing it for months, weeks, or days, keep your wine in the dark as much as possible. UV rays from direct sunlight can damage wine’s flavor and aroma. You should also keep wines away from sources of vibration such as your washer, dryer, exercise area, or stereo system. Vibrations can disturb sediments in the bottle, disrupting the delicate process that causes the wine to age favorably.

Store the wine bottle horizontally

For bottles with corks, be sure to store your wine horizontally in a wine rack. Keeping wine on its side helps the cork moist. This is key for long-term storage, as a dried out cork can cause seepage and premature ageing. Horizontal storage is also an efficient way to store your wine for maximum space and easy access.

Store wine in a wine fridge not a regular fridge

If you don’t have a wine storage space that is consistently cool, dark and moist, a wine refrigerator (also known as wine cooler) is a good idea. Unlike a standard refrigerator, which keeps your food very cold and dry, a wine fridge keeps wine between 50-60F [10-15c] and at a proper humidity. A good fridge will also have a cooler setting for champagne. Keeping your wine in a separate wine fridge also helps prevent cross-contamination from food odors. If cost is a concern, remember that wine can be an investment. In that case a good wine fridge is a way to protect your investment.

Store wine at a proper humidity

Humidity extremes in your wine cellar or storage area can also affect your wines’ longevity. At lower humidity levels, your corks can dry out, leaving the wine vulnerable to the effect of oxygen. On the other hand, higher humidity can cause labels to peel off the bottles, making them difficult to display or sell. In general, your wine cellar humidity should be between 60 and 68 percent.

Store open bottles of wine properly

Stored properly, an opened bottle of wine can last 3-5 days. The key of extending the shelf life of an open wine and retain its original qualities is to recork it promptly and tightly. To recork wine, place some wax paper around the cork and slide it back into its original position. The wax will ease the cork into the top and also ensure that no stray parts of the cork drop into the bottle. If recorking isn’t an option for instance, if the cork is splintered or has been discarded, a rubber wine stopper can create a tight seal. Finally, an upgrade option for recorking is a wine vacuum pump, which enables you to suck the air out of an open bottle, creating a nearly airtight seal.

Serve wine at proper temperature

When preparing to serve a stored bottle to fellow wine lovers, allow time for it to come up (or down) to the proper serving temperature. This ensures full expression of wine aroma and flavor. Red wine should be served chilled slightly below room temperature, somewhere between 58 and 65F [about 12-190C]. The precise temperature is determined by the age of the wine, with older wines being held better at 61-62F and younger wines and the colder end of the spectrum. Reds with stronger tannins should be kept on the warmer end of the temperature spectrum than lighter red wine. White wines can and should be served colder than reds, but they mustn’t be kept so cold as to affect the aromas. Instead, white wine should be chilled between 45-55F [8-120C]. White sparkling wines should be on the colder end of that spectrum, as should sweet white wines. Champagne should be served coldest of all, at 38-45F [5-80C].

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