How to Store Wine: Avoid Ruining Your Stash
Whether you’re a casual wine drinker, a full-fledged wine lover, or even a sommelier in training, you must know how to store wine.
While there are plenty of wine storage gadgets on the market, from elaborate wine fridges to full-blown wine cellars, these are an investment that could set you back thousands upon thousands of dollars.
Luckily, we know a few handy tricks that will keep your wine collection looking and tasting its best. Better yet, most of our tips won’t cost you a penny.
So, whether you’re looking for a way to keep your wine stash pristine, curious about the ideal storage space, or are unsure if it’s safe to drink the bottle you opened last week, keep reading to discover how to store wine.
Why Wine Storage Matters
First off, you may be wondering what the big deal is. Why is the question “how to store wine” so complicated?
Well, contrary to popular belief, it’s only a very small percentage of wines that improve with age. While all wines will go through a short aging process when they are made, only a select few fine wines improve with age once they’ve been bottled. The rest taste best a few years after release.
However, if you buy a bottle that you aren’t quite ready to drink, you can keep it for a while as long as you protect it from the elements.
UV rays from direct sunlight, temperature variations and even vibrations can ruin your wine. Poor storage conditions could dampen delicate flavors, disturb the wine’s sediment and ruin color and aroma.
But, worst of all, incorrectly storing your bottle of wine will cause the cork to expand and contract, letting oxygen in and causing it to crumble. This is what sommeliers refer to as a wine bottle being “corked,” it will be unmistakable when you open it, as there will be a distinct smell of wet cardboard.
How to Store Wine at the Right Temperature
Wine’s greatest enemy is temperatures that are too warm or too cold. Think of your favorite bottle as a very temperamental Goldielocks. The room temperature really does have to be just right.
To make things even more complicated, each varietal’s ideal temperature varies. However, a good rule of thumb is to choose a storage area that’s around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re unsure, contact your supplier. If you’re drinking Usual Wines, get in touch with us here — we’re always happy to answer your questions.
If you’re not blessed with much space, don’t panic. While 55 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal, you don’t need a perfect wine cellar to keep your wine looking and tasting fresh. The most important thing is that your wine does not get too cold to freeze or too warm to heat up, and that temperature fluctuations are kept to an absolute minimum.
It’s temperature swings that cause corks to expand and contract, so keep the room temperature as stable as possible.
How Wine Racks Save Your Wine Collection
For long-term storage, a wine rack is a good investment. Not only do they add a touch of class to your pad, but wine racks keep your wine collection in the optimum position for storage.
Wine racks hold wine bottles still and horizontal they keep the corks moist. This is important as corks leak and let in too much oxygen as they dry out, thus speeding up the aging process and ruining your wine.
Obviously, this only applies to wines with a cork, but screw cap wines can be kept horizontally too. Keeping your wine all together in a wine rack is a good habit to form to keep your collection tasting its best.
How to Choose the Ideal Storage Space
To make sure you have the perfect storage conditions, ask yourself a few key questions:
- Is the space away from direct sunlight? UV light can degrade the quality of your wine, while even artificial light can have an adverse effect. While a cellar is perfect, a dark cool cupboard will do fine too for those not quite ready for a remodel.
- What are the humidity levels? For those living in very warm countries, beware of exposing your collection to too much humidity. The perfect storage space should have 60-68% humidity.
- Is your wine being exposed to vibrations? This may seem like an odd one, but a lot of shaking can disturb your wine’s sediment, causing it to age prematurely and affecting the flavor of the wine. While few homes will have this problem, if you live near a train station or your teenager has taken up the drums, make sure your wine isn’t suffering as a consequence.
How to Properly Store Open Bottles of Wine
Most of the advice we’ve given so far concerns how to store wine in long-term storage, but there are a few things to keep in mind with short-term storage too.
If you’ve just opened a bottle and only fancy a glass or two, it's totally OK to pop the bottle back in the fridge for another day. Generally speaking, an open bottle of wine is fine to drink five days after opening.
The key to making sure that wine stays as lovely as when you first opened it is re-corking it properly. Creating a tight seal on your bottle is a must, so make sure you keep hold of that cork. If you’ve misplaced your cork, or are having trouble getting it back in, a rubber bottle topper will work too — just make sure it forms a tight seal.
While you may assume we’re just talking about white wine, sparkling, and rosé here, it’s actually important to chill your red wine too. Surprisingly, keeping that red wine nice and cool is the best way to make sure it’s fresh. While we could all do with drinking our red wine a little cooler anyway (we wrote a whole blog about it here), you can take your wine out of the fridge and leave it to warm slightly before you dive in.
Good Wine Deserves Proper Storage
As you can probably tell, we love wine. We source grapes from small, independent winemakers and we know the hard work that goes into making every bottle great. That’s why we hate to see great wine ruined by poor storage.
To make sure your favorite bottle doesn’t become a storage casualty, remember these key rules:
- Make sure you keep your wine at a moderate temperature, not too hot and not too cold.
- Don’t fluctuate the temperature in which you store your wine
- Keep your wine in the dark, especially away from direct sunlight
- Avoid subjecting your collection to vibrations
- Chill opened bottles of wine between drinking sessions
- Don’t keep open bottles for longer than five days
With these six rules in your pocket your wine collection will stay looking and tasting great, just as the winemakers intended. Of course, if you don’t want to worry about how to store wine after you open it, opt for a by-the-glass bottle of fresh, small-batch wine every time.