Ah, wine: nectar of the gods, agent of honesty, and reliever of workday stress. Whether you’re drinking a rare vintage or filling your tumbler from a cardboard box, vino works the magic that we all need once in a while.
Drinking wine shortly after purchasing is easy enough, but if you’re planning on holding off for a while, there are some rules you have to follow so that your godly nectar doesn’t spoil. If you’re a serious collector, or just someone saving a bottle for that big life event years down the road, here are some basics of wine storage.
Control the Temperature
Temperature is a key factor in the aging process. If you keep wine in a climate over 70 degrees, the heat will ruin the works. Prolonged heat will flatten out the flavor, making your product a disappointment on the big day that you finally pop the cork. A temp of 55 degrees is considered the ideal temperature for wine storage, but anything between 45 and 65 should do. You should avoid keeping your prized bottles in the household fridge, where the temperature is usually in the 30s. This coldness can dry out the cork, which permits air into the bottle and spoils the flavor.
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
Wine storage needs to take place in a dark area. Your product loves the shadows, because UV light rays can spur chemical reactions, causing the product to degrade and age too quickly. Household lights are less harmful, but incandescent bulbs are preferable to fluorescent ones, which give off a small degree of UV rays. The need for darkness explains the tint of the bottle. Manufacturers do this to soften harmful light.
Storing bottles sideways is preferable to keeping them upright. The advantage to this mode of wine storage is that it forces the liquid against the cork, which prevents it from drying out and letting that pesky air inside. If you’re planning on popping the bottle soon, positioning isn’t too big a factor. But if you’re keeping it around for months or years, sideways storage is the name of the game.
If you’re keeping an expensive vintage around for the long term, you need to keep it as still as possible. Serious aficionados worry about the slight vibrations given off by household appliances and heating systems. Though we’re not all quite so paranoid, bottles often contain sediment, and shaking them around too much can give the liquid an undesirable grainy or gritty quality. Shaking can also speed up the chemistry of aging, which will result in unwanted flavors.
Wine storage is pretty straightforward as soon as you know these basics. Coolness, stillness, darkness, and a horizontal posture – if you treat your prized vintages like vampires, they won’t disappoint you once you finally pour that first glass.