Carol's tips for wine storage

Dusty wines bottles laid on a wooden wine rack

I often get asked questions about how to store wine so I thought I’d put together my top tips for you. There are some basic dos and don'ts as well as exceptions to the rules. But if you follow the tips below, there’s a great chance you’ll get maximum enjoyment from your wine!

Wines with a cork need to lie down

The nature of cork is to let tiny amounts of oxygen in as well as tiny amounts of oxygen out. If wines with a cork are stored upright for very long, the corks will dry out, air will get into the wine and cause excessive oxidation, resulting ultimately in an undrinkable wine.  Lying the bottle down will keep one end of the cork wet, which slows down this process and allows the normal level of oxidation to take place that rounds out the wine as it matures. If you have a wine storage unit, a good tip is to store them label to the side to avoid damage to the label.  You can still see whether the sediment has settled in the bottle.

Wines prefer the dark

I'll save you the technical explanation of what happens to wine under direct sunlight and right fluorescents. But trust me when I say that unless you want a 'cooked cabbage' flavoured glass of wine, keep your wine in the dark!  Even a closet corner is better than the glare of the ktichen! The bottle themselves, particularly darker bottles can offer some protection but to be absolutely sure, no light is best. If it is not possible to keep it out of the light, you can lightly wrap it up in a cloth, or try keeping it in a box.

Keep your cool

Exposure to temperatures higher than the ambient temperature can definitely shorten the drinkable lifespan of any wine.  If you remove the foil and see a cork that is slightly protruding from the bottle, you know that at some point, the bottle has been exposed to excessive temperatures and the wine itself has expanded. Danger Will Robinson! That bottle is unlikely to be drinkable (by all means, open it and find out!). For extended aging of wine (over 1 year), refrigeration is a must in most parts of the world; even a damp cellar cannot be cool enough. If you have a mix of red and white wine the ideal temperature is 12 °C. Red wine is generally more sensitive to temperature fluctuations.

Don't move the wine

If possible do not move a bottle at all once it is stored. Even vibrations from heavy traffic and generators may negatively affect the wine. It's also a good idea to only put wine in the kitchen refrigerator that you are planning to consume immediately.  Otherwise, the vibrations from the refrigerator's compressor can damage the wine. You open the kitchen refrigerator door much more often than you would a wine storage unit, so keep your wine calm and comfortable until you are ready to drink it!

Wine doesn't go with cheese in the refrigerator

Wine "breathes", so don't store it with anything that has a strong smell, as the smell will permeate through the cork and taint the wine. Good ventilation may help prevent musty odours from entering the wine.

When it comes to wine, damp can be good. A good level of humidity keeps the cork from drying and minimizes evaporation, that’s why cellars work so well. If humidity is too high, over 70%, it can encourage the growth of mould and cause labels to loosen. If your cellar is particularly damp a dehumidifier can work perfectly.

Some wines grow up before others

Do your research (or ask your local friendly wine merchant) as not all wines improve with age. Generally, inexpensive wines will not improve. Even some expensive white wines are meant to be drunk young when they are at their freshest. Most white wines should be consumed after 2-3 years of the vintage, although some top quality White Burgundies can be aged for over 20 years. Red wines can be stored and aged for anywhere between 1-20 years to mature. However, this depends on the overall quality of red wine and the balance of fruit concentration, acid and tannins.

Plan ahead

Serve your wine at the best temperature for you and your guests. Wines taste best at a whole array of temperatures, which are usually different from the temperature in which they were stored. So plan what you are drinking and allow the temperature to increase or fall to the appropriate serving temperature, for example

  • Rosé and dry white wines: 8-14ºC . Often the finer or more expensive the white wine the less chilled it should be to reveal the complexity of the wine.
  • Sparkling wines and champagne: 6-8ºC
  • Light red wine: 13ºC
  • Full bodied red wines: 15-19ºC

If these tips didn’t answer your wine storage questions, give us a call or pop in to see us! You can also send us a message. We'd love to hear from you.