What is the appropriate method for storing wine?
If wine doesn’t sit around long in your house, you don’t worry about storing it. But maybe you want to take advantage of your wine shop’s cheaper-by-the-case policy, or you’ve come into a few bottles of good wine that need aging. If so, it’s time to make some decisions about storing your wine.
First, you have to understand what you are trying to accomplish. How much and what type of wine are you going to store? Where are you going to store it? How often do you buy wine? How often do you drink wine?
Careful storage will be rewarded with a better wine when it is finally opened.
Temperature, light, humidity and vibration all affect how a bottle of wine matures. The longer a bottle is kept, the more impact those factors will have.
Storing at too cool a temperature will retard maturing, while storing at too warm a temperature will accelerate it. Keeping the temperature consistent is also critical. Changing the temp levels will affect the wine’s aging process.
Long-term exposure to light can accelerate aging and even damage the wine.
Humidity comes into play in keeping the cork moist. Too dry an environment will dry and shrink the cork, permitting air to seep into the bottle.>
Bottles shouldn’t be disturbed in any way as they age. Vibration interferes with the biochemical process of aging.
You should consider all four of these factors when choosing the appropriate method for storing your wine.
Start by storing wine on its side. Except for screw-cap bottles, which can be kept upright, this benefits any wine, whether you drink it soon or hold onto it for years.
Bottles should be stored or stacked on their side to keep the cork moist, thus fully swollen and airtight, avoiding oxidation
To reduce vibration and to secure bottles on their sides, even a casual wine drinker may want to invest in a wine rack. Wine racks can be small and simple or large and elaborate. The size should depend on how many bottles you intend to store, as well as where the rack will sit. Keeping bottles in a wine rack in a shadowy corner of the den or in a closet is fine for a few weeks, but bottles stored long term need temperatures that are cool and consistent.
Wine should be stored between 53 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit In some areas of the country this can be achieved by storing bottles in a cool, dark basement. In Florida, though, that means refrigeration. Wines need to rest peacefully and that can’t happen in an environment that is constantly being disturbed. The best solution is a refrigerator engineered specifically for storing wine.
[Mr Zimmerman owns and operates Liquors Galore, 1418 Avenue J (between 12th and 13th Streets); Brooklyn, NY 11230-3702; Telephone: 718.338.4166. The above post is part of a multi-part series we’ll be posting once a week on these pages]