Let us pretend we don’t drink all those bottles we receive for Christmas presents and decide to put a few bottles down, so we drink them at their optimum. The majority of us don’t have the discipline to store wine. The urge to consume that tempting bottle of red tonight, rather than look at it for the next five – 10 (or more) years is too strong! So, how do we best store the wine to make sure it tastes as sensational as the back labels tell us it will, when we open it in five years’ time?
The most important influence on the success of wine storage is temperature. Wine doesn’t respond well to significant fluctuations in temperature, so store your wine in a place where the temperature remains relatively constant, ideally somewhere between 14 – 18 degrees. Wine bottles typically are made from a quality of glass that protects the wine quite effectively from short term exposure to external variations in temperature, but if stored in a hot room over time, the wine inside a glass bottle will heat up and potentially spoil.
Going hand in hand with the temperature is finding a place that is away from direct sunlight and ultraviolet light. So, we are hunting for a place in the house that is constantly cool and away from direct light … got any ideas yet?
Next is humidity. This applies primarily to wine that is under cork. A little bit of moisture in the air is a good thing for cork, as they tend to dry out and shrink when there is little or no moisture in the air.
We often shake our heads in despair when we see a fabulously expensive kitchen with all the must-haves, complete with an in-built wine rack tucked nicely next to the oven or the fridge. This is not ideal. You can imagine the constant heating and cooling of the oven and the heat coming from the refrigerator, which does not do bottled wine any favours.
Most homes have a room or cupboard that has the preferred wine storage features. This can be a linen cupboard, under the stairs, at the bottom of the wardrobe, at the back of the garage or ideally in the little room at the back of the garage that smells musty and moist and has enough space for a bit of racking!
Wines that are under cork will also benefit from being stored laying on a slight incline, so that the cork is in contact with the wine and keeping moist. Many wine racks are designed so that the neck of the bottle is facing down, such that the cork is exposed to the pressure of the entire contents of the bottle. This can cause a problem if the quality of the cork isn’t “A” grade and may fail, causing “cork taint”.
So hopefully this is helpful when you receive the mandatory few bottles of wine over the festive season and you decide to put them aside for a special occasion a few years down the track. Patience definitely pays when it comes to red wine!