You don’t need a fancy wine cellar to enjoy the benefits of keeping wine at home. A simple wine rack under the stairs or in the garage is likely to be fine. It will allow you to have a range of wine to choose from, giving you something to suit your mood and meal. There are also many wines that can be kept and will even improve with time – giving you a more enjoyable wine at no extra cost!
If you want to know how to store wine, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll show you the best way to store wine, no matter the vintage. Whether you have red, white, or sparkling wines, we’ll teach you tips on how to store wine properly so that the bottles last for a long, long time… (unless you drink them first!)
How to Store Wine: Wine Storage 101
Did you know that the average person stores a bottle of wine for anywhere from 14 hours to two weeks, with up to 90% of wine drunk within 24 hours of purchase! Unless you’re a collector of wine, you have no real need for a fancy wine cellar, dehumidifier, or cooling unit.
All you’ll need to do is find the best place in your home that meets the following conditions:
The number one enemy of wine is heat! The hotter the temperature in your home, the more likely it will be for the wine to spoil. However, fluctuating temperatures will also have a negative effect. If the temperature reaches just 21 C, the heat can age the wine more quickly. If the heat keeps rising, the wine may “cook” in the bottle, leaving your wine with flat flavours and aromas.
Anywhere between 7 and 18 C is ideal for storing your wine. Find a room (or cupboard!) in your home where the temperature is cool and constant, and keep the wine there.
Note: Heat exposure won’t affect the wines in the short term, only if you store the bottles for years. If you are drinking the wine within a year or so then you shouldn’t have to worry about heat, but do try to keep it away from radiators or other sources of heat.
Some people advise against storing wine in the fridge, but as a dark place with a constant temperature, there are benefits, particularly if it’s for white wines as they were always be ready at drinking temperature!
Light is one of the worst enemies of your wine, particularly white and light-colored wines. The UV rays of direct sunlight can degrade your wine, causing it to age prematurely. This is why most vintners use colored bottles, as the tint helps to protect the wine from direct sunlight.
You should make it a point to store your wine someplace where there is NO direct sunlight.
As the sun’s rays hit the wine, they cause it to heat, leading to degradation. Store them out of direct sunlight, and even keep them in a dark place to ensure that they last longer.
You won’t have to worry about your light bulbs or interior lights causing damage to the wine, though strong direct lighting (such as from halogen bulbs or spotlights) could cause degradation of your wine. Incandescent bulbs are usually safer than fluorescent bulbs, as they emit far less UV light.
The “ideal” humidity level is around 70%. This is because air that is too dry will cause the corks to dry out, leading to seepage and air bubbles. Too much humidity, and mould could grow on the cork and bottle.
If you don’t want to fork out for a controlled environment (like a wine cellar or cooler), don’t sweat it! Humidity levels anywhere from 50 to 80% are fine for your average bottles of wine – only truly fine, fancy wines need a controlled environment.
If the wine is shaken, it could cause the chemical reactions in your wine (the reactions that caused it to ferment) to speed up. The vibrations could also disturb the wine’s sediment, preventing the sediment from settling. This could lead to a gritty bottle of wine, which can be unpleasant.
The best way to store wine is to keep it well away from excessive vibrations, such as washing machines. Long-term storage can be affected by vibrations, but for short-term storage it should be fine.
If you want to know how to store wine, it’s always wise to keep cork-sealed wines on their sides until opened. This ensures that the bottom of the cork stays moist, and the wine prevents the cork from drying out.
Horizontal racking is also a space-efficient solution, so it’s likely the best way to store your wine. Screw capped wines can be stored horizontally or vertically.
A cork will usually only dry out after many months or years of storage, so only fine wines that are left to age really NEED to be stored this way.
How to Store Red Wine
If you want to know how to store red wine, you need to remember that all wines are sensitive to light. The light causes premature aging, which can affect the flavours – and not in a good way! Red wines aren’t as sensitive to light as other wines, but you want to make sure that they are stored in a cool, dark place with as little direct sunlight as possible.
How to Store White Wine
White wines are the most susceptible to light damage, and they tend to degrade very quickly if left out under direct sunlight. It’s vital that you store white wines in a cool, dry, and dark place, as that will protect the wine and reduce the risk of degradation. Particularly those that are in clear glass bottles, rather than dark coloured bottles, as these are more susceptible to light damage.
How to Store Sparkling Wine
Just like white wines, sparkling wines tend to degrade fairly easily when exposed to direct sunlight. You’d do well to keep them stored in the same cool, dark place as the white wine, as that will ensure that they have their bubble and fizz when you open them. Plus, you don’t want the light to affect the flavour of the wine!
Champagnes can be stored for many years in the right conditions, with the flavours becoming more complex, and the bubbles softer. Lighter sparkling wines such as Prosecco, however, are best drunk whilst young and fresh.
Follow these tips, and you’ll find that your wines last a whole lot longer.