Wine Storage 101
Here is a little information about best practices for wine storage.
First, I’d like to talk about the worst places to store your wines. These places include the garage, storage shed or barn, trunk of car, top of fridge, laundry room, near odorous foods or in a room full of bright light (natural or not). If you are storing your wines in any of these places, right after you are done reading this article, please, please, re-locate your wine.
The proper temperature for wine storage is in the range of 7˚C-18˚C (45˚F-65˚F). Many wine experts around the world say 12˚C (55˚F) is the perfect temperature.
Temperature is hands down, the biggest culprit of ruining wine.
If it’s too hot, you will literally “cook” your wine and ruin it. Wine that is stored at too hot of temperatures will have a flat aroma & flavour and eventually turn into vinegar. When wine warms up, the volume increases in your bottle through heat expansion and will pop your corks out.
If it’s too cold, you will lose the acidic notes to your wines, turning your wine flabby and thin. This is especially prevalent in white wines. Do not store your wines in the fridge for longer than 2 months unless it’s a proper wine fridge with temperature and humidity controls. One of the jobs of the fridge in your kitchen is to take the moisture out of the air to keep your food fresh, which means it will also take the moisture out of your cork, shrinking it, and causing your wine to oxidize and leak out.
If the temperature where you store your wine changes drastically, from warm to cool, this will also ruin your wine. When the temperature fluctuates like this, it causes your wine to expand and contract. Expansion and contraction like this will cause your corks to pop out and wine will seep out.
You know that old baking soda box you have in your fridge to remove odours? Yeah, well the cork that is holding your wine in it’s bottle acts the same way! Corks will absorb the smells that are around it which can then transfer to your wine. Do not store wines near pungent smells (foods like onions and garlic, oils and gas, cleaning chemicals, laundry soap, etc) unless you want some interesting bouquet notes in your vino! A “summer rain scent” finish is not a good characteristic of wine.
Bottled wine does not like light, natural or artificial. This is the main reason wines are bottled in coloured bottles. The coloured glass acts like sunglasses or sunscreen for your wine. UV light will rapidly age your wine (just like our skin) and break down tannins, which is the backbone of your wine and what protects it while it’s aging. Storing wine out in the open like a living room or dining room with a beautiful picture window is not a good idea. While LED, fluorescent, compact fluorescent and incandescent bulbs emit a very low amount of UV rays that is safe for humans, it’s best to keep the lights off too around your wine collection.
Another thing that is often overlooked when selecting a good place to store wine is vibrations. Too much vibration can cause chemical reactions in your wine over long term storage. Heavy vibrations can cause the wines tannins to separate from the wine itself leading to flat tasting wine. As mentioned earlier, tannin is what protects your wines in long term storage. Do not store your wine on the top of your fridge or directly underneath stairs that are used constantly.
So now your thinking, this is great and all Melanie, but where should I store my wine??
I know not all of us are able to have an underground wine cave with a fabulous chandelier to cellar our wines in (although, that would be a great project one day, I’ll have to plant the seed with Derek, haha).
The best place to store your wine is somewhere cool, dark and away from constant disruptions, exactly where you would find a spider.
If you have a basement, partial basement, or crawl space, these would be your best bet. If these spaces are not available, a quiet, rarely disturbed closet should do the trick! If you live in a condo style setting, be weary of storing in your storage locker in the underground parking. Those places emit a lot of exhaust fumes that can absorb into your corks. Depending on how invested you are in your wine collection, there are some very nifty yet affordable wine fridges out there. These are great for having the perfect temperatures and humidity, and tuck away nicely in a corner…however, not all of us have the space or extra funds for that matter. Some of us like to spend our extra moola on wine, am I right?!
And remember, after bottling it’s important to leave your bottles standing upright for 7-10 days. This will ensure that the cork properly expands in the bottle and any air that is trapped, can escape. After that, make sure you store your wines on their sides to keep the cork plump and moist. If you leave them standing upright, you run the risk of your cork shrinking, drying out and then causing your wine to oxidize very quickly.
Wine is living and ever-changing! Make sure you give it the best life by giving it the perfect place to live and mature into something even more fabulous…