Humans have been enjoying and perfecting wine for thousands of years. Techniques have improved. The technology has advanced. Nearly every facet of the wine experience is better at this moment than it was the moment before. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Still, Americans drink more wine than any other nation in the world, and when it comes to basic wine guidelines such as wine storage, most of us are making a few of the same mistakes time and time again. Even though the wine we pick up at the store has been perfected, we have to do our part to make sure we’ll enjoy it. Improve on your experience with these wine storage tips.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
What’s the deal with wine cellars? Well, the whole point is to keep wine isolated, covered in darkness and completely still. Will such a thing as the occasional vibration inside a fridge or the sunlight glaring through the backseat window on your drive home ruin that precious purchase from the supermarket? Nope. It won’t. And if you’re not a regular wine drinker you probably won’t notice. But if you’re saving the nice bottle of wine in your home for a special occasion or just want to make sure you’re not causing any damage, it’s important to know that wine is sensitive to light, particularly direct sunlight and UV rays, even the fluorescent lights in the kitchen. Many bottles are designed to block these culprits, but they won’t stop it all, especially over long periods of time. Most light fixtures in your home won’t do much damage, but as a general rule, try to put the wine you want to preserve in a dark place where it won’t be disturbed to get the most out of each bottle.
The Perfect Bottle Position
Ever wonder why wine bottles are typically seen being stored on their sides with the cork facing out, or why some wine racks are designed to hold bottles upside down? It turns out wine isn’t just susceptible to light or movement–it can also be spoiled by being stored in an incorrect position. Even though you picked it off the shelf at the store from an upright position, that’s not how you should store it at home. The reason bottles are set on their sides is because the liquid in the bottle needs to stay right up against the cork to seal it properly and prevent oxygen from sneaking inside. This is also a key thing to keep in mind when shopping for your wine at the store. Most stores will stock their wine upright, and sometimes it’s hard to tell how long the bottle has been standing there. This method is okay for a short period of time, but isn’t ideal for long-term storage.
Tips on Temperature & Timing
Blanketed in darkness like a vampire–check. Tipped on its side to keep oxygen out–check. Anything else that might ruin your wine? Of course there is. Temperature, humidity and timing are the final things on our list. First, the temperature where you store your wine needs to be consistent. For aging purposes, it’s ideal for wine to be stored between 55°F and 75°F, but most experts advise not to store wine above 75°F. And for the casual wine enthusiast, it’s more important to keep wine refrigerated at a steady temp than fuss too much about the exact degree. If you can control the humidity in your storage area, try to keep it above 60% to prevent corks from drying out. And as far as aging your wine, make sure you’re storing wine that will be able to improve over time. Many wines produced commercially in the US actually will not improve with age, so if you’re going to make the effort with your storage techniques, research your specific wine for details.
After You’ve Opened It
So far we’ve gone over how to store the wine you’ve picked up from the store and plan to put away for that special occasion or how to preserve the wine you received as a gift. But the storage rules change for wine that you’ve already opened, and let’s face it, for most of us, we’re not picking up wine just to tuck it away in the basement. We want to pop the cork and enjoy it that night or during the upcoming weekend. But once the party is over, there might still be some wine swooshing around the bottle. If you don’t want to toss it out then you need to know how to store it and how long you can store it. Generally for white wine you can just push the cork in tight and pop the bottle on its side in the fridge. This will keep the wine away from a lot of light while maintaining the temperature. However, once you open a bottle, there’s almost no place to put it that will preserve it for more than three to five days. This goes for red wine as well, but unlike a white wine, red wine doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Just tighten the cork and arrange it on its side in a dark setting.
LTD Commodities has all kinds of accessories for the wine enthusiast, including wine totes to make sure a favorite vintage is protected during transport, glasses for wine tasting parties or cork holders for decoration.